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Anything Else But the Truth

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“Unbelievable.” 

Patrick shakes his head, looking back at David. He can feel warmth and then delicious heat flood his gut as he breaks David’s gaze and turns to walk out the door and towards the cafe. Each step is lighter, easier than the last. 

It’s finally over. It’s been the longest week of his life. 

His hands tingle with the knowledge that they’ll be touching David again soon; his brain has become a series of tangled wires, each short-circuiting in turn thinking about showing David how sorry, how grateful he is with the heat of their bodies. This is the longest he’s gone without even seeing David since they’ve met, and if he can, he’ll make sure it never happens again. Even before they kissed, Patrick always seemed to find ways to touch David—gently on the upper arm when showing him something on the computer, squeezing past him in the crowded stock room, “accidentally” brushing his shoulder against David’s back. It’s impossible for Patrick to stay away from him.

When he steps into the cafe he almost runs straight into Twyla carrying a loaded tray. 

“Oh gosh, Patrick, I’m sorry! I didn’t see you!” she apologizes as she struggles to catch herself, arm still wavering precariously under the weight. Patrick reaches for the tray and her shoulder instinctively, steadying them both. 

“My fault, Twyla. I wasn’t paying attention.” 

As she regains her balance, he lets go and follows her back towards the bar, hopping onto a stool as she rounds the corner and sets the dishes down. 

“You’re looking a lot better than the last time I saw you.” 

“Yeah. Well. I needed to come back strong after that,” he shakes his head, chin down, before looking back up at her. “This hasn’t been my proudest week.” 

“Well, it seems like you listened to what I said.” 

A sheepish smile spreads across Patrick’s face and he nods, rubbing the back of his neck. 

“Yeah, Twyla. I did. Thanks again for that.”

“Not a problem—always happy to help!” She shakes her head and smiles. “Now. What can I get you?” 

He gives a small, closed-mouth grin.

“Um. I’m gonna do the club sandwich plate and the italian sub to go. Fries with both? Extra for the sub.”

She smiles back, knowingly; the sub is David’s favorite. 

“Coming right up.”

 


 

When Patrick gets back to the store, food in hand, he notes fondly that David is struggling to hide a nervous grin, watching him walk in towards the register. 

God he just wants to give David everything. 

“Well, David,” he says, firmly, heart thrumming frantically in his chest even as he keeps his face carefully neutral, looking straight into David’s warm, dark eyes and setting the sloppily labeled boxes on the counter next to each other. “I ended up getting two sandwiches—a club and an italian sub—so you can have one of them if you want.” 

David reflexively reaches for the sub, his wrist making an odd, desperate motion before he stops it and pulls slightly back. Like he thinks this is a test.

And in a way it is, Patrick guesses. 

Come on, David, he thinks, wetting his lips and watching David’s face carefully. Take what you want.

“Um,” David hums in indecision. He screws his eyes shut and scrunches his chin for a brief moment in an expression Patrick finds painfully cute before he allows his faltering hand to take the box marked ‘I. Sub.’ Patrick winks at him, face still neutral.

“Ok then. Let’s eat.”

“Um. It’s incorrect for me to eat standing up at a counter like some sort of large, awkward bird of prey, but I’ll make an exception this time.”

Patrick swallows his chuckle.

“Thank you. For making an exception.” He pauses to eat a fry. “For what it’s worth, I think you’re a lovely bird.”

David’s eyes shine as he tips his chin up haughtily. Patrick turns his focus to his sandwich, unwrapping the wax paper around it. He watches in the upper edges of his vision as David opens his own box and notes the amount of fries, eyes darting to Patrick’s downturned face for confirmation that this was his plan all along. They both say nothing and eat mostly in silence. With every furtive, sideways glance, electricity courses through Patrick, so after a few minutes, he pulls out his phone to cut the tension. 

“I made a list, David,” he says casually, setting his phone on the counter between them so David can sort of read it upside down.

“What?” David asks around a french fry, crooking his neck to get a better angle on the screen.

“I made a list. Of things we can get done today before we close. Since I fell behind while you were out.”

“Um. I know. I noticed.” David raises his eyebrows and a self-righteous hand finds his hip. “I already front-faced all the skin care products while you were at the cafe.” 

“Wow. Thank you, David,” Patrick says slowly, keeping his voice deliberately monotone, controlled. “Have you seen how dirty the floors are, though?” 

“Are you saying that we need to clean them?”

“I’m saying that you need to clean them.” 

He raises one barely there eyebrow and not so subtly clenches his jaw because he knows it drives David wild, then gathers his lunch trash and walks outside to toss it in the corner trash can. David watches as he makes his way from the front of the store to the back room and returns with the broom and dustpan.

“Whenever you’re finished with lunch you can get started.” Patrick sets them down behind the counter. David’s mouth is full but his eyes narrow slightly. He swallows.

“Okay, but why can’t we get a Roomba again?”

“Because, David. They’re like $300 and you and I both have perfectly good arms.”

David clears his throat, eyeing the broom with open distaste as he takes a bite of his sandwich. Patrick observes the scene fondly from his position in front of the counter. 

“And what will you be doing while I’m sweeping?” David has already adopted a masterful pout, lips pursed and chin wrinkling.

“I’ll be catching up on some inventory and scheduling vendor orders for the month. So, I will also be working.” Patrick blinks back at David and then turns to busy himself with straightening the products around the cash as David watches him, eyes still narrow. 

David finishes the rest of his fries in indignant silence. When he comes back from throwing his trash away, he picks up the broom like it’s a front-of-the-store plunger, glaring at it with affected repulsion. Patrick gives him a down-turned, closed-mouth smirk. 

“Thanks so much David. I really appreciate it. My back is stiff from standing all week since I was the only person here.” He turns both palms around flat on his lower back, thumbs out, pushing his hips forward slightly to emphasize the stretch. David wets his lips, eyes widening as Patrick’s hips roll. Patrick subconsciously bites his bottom lip but gives a minute shake of his head as if to say not yet.

“I’m pretty sure Alexis was here helping,” David mutters mostly to himself as he turns his head down again and begrudgingly begins to clean by the front door, propping it open to sweep the dust and stray leaves out. 

“What was that, David?” Patrick tilts his head as if he didn’t quite catch what he very clearly caught, a betraying grin spreading across his face. 

It’s a treat to watch David with the broom. Patrick can tell he’s getting a little warm from the effort as his cheeks flush and torso twists, wrapped in a baffling leather sweater that’s somehow still irresistibly attractive. As David moves his way towards the back of the store, Patrick tries to avoid turning his head while still letting his eyes rake over David’s solid, gorgeous frame, his broad shoulders, long legs. The gentle sway of his hips as he sweeps methodically along. Patrick’s eyes are captured there, his mind back in bed last week, deep between David’s thighs, when David clears his throat. 

Caught.

“Enjoying the view?” David asks, barely concealing a smug grin.

“Mm. Just noticing that you missed a spot under the scarf hooks.” Patrick walks out from behind the counter and points towards the shelf on the back left of the floor. 

Patrick will remember forever the indignant, garbled noise David traps in the back of his throat.

Patrick turns on his heel, humming happily to himself as makes his way into the store room. While ostensibly counting the remaining vanilla soy candle stock, he takes a minute to lean against the shelf, cover his face with his hands, and smile. Breathing deeply, he sends out a delirious prayer of thanks to whatever is listening that he gets to have this life. This life that is everything he never knew he wanted.

When he comes back out a while later, full product counts complete, David is tidying up the final corner. 

“It looks great.” 

David curtsies sarcastically before he turns to walk the broom and dustpan to their home in the back room. There’s still the hint of a smile at the corner of his pursed mouth as he brushes past Patrick and Patrick can’t stop staring, letting himself drink David in. He stands with his hands on his hips, heat building overwhelmingly in his head until he shakes the fog away. 

As he’s clearing his brain, the bell on the door rings and in walks Mrs. Gleason, an elderly neighbor that lives a few houses behind Ray’s. She’s probably 127 years old, 65lbs, 3 feet tall and David’s third least-favorite customer, rivaled only by Roland and anyone who wears bootcut jeans. Patrick couldn’t have asked for a more perfect scenario. 

“David!” he calls as David rounds the corner back onto the main floor, “Mrs. Gleason requested your specific help with something.” David’s face immediately falls flat.

“I did?” She looks confused, squinting up at Patrick from behind her very thick glasses.

“You did,” Patrick confirms, eyes wide, feigning trustworthiness. Please let me have this, Mrs. Gleason.

“Okay, then. David, is it?” Mrs. Gleason’s eyes narrow even further as she looks up at him. She furrows her already heavily creased brow. “You’re unusually tall.” 

“Um. Thank you.” David shoots an icy glare at Patrick who has to look away to avoid breaking. “How can I help you, Mrs. Gleason?”

“Well you see, I bought my teenage granddaughter one of those ridiculous, fancy yak shirts but before I could give it to her, my dog found it and dragged it into his bed. It’s the first blanket he refuses to pee on, so I was hoping I could buy another as backup.” 

Patrick has to turn away completely, shoulders shaking in silent laughter. He can feel David’s eyes burning the back of his head over Mrs. Gleason’s tiny shoulder. 

“Um. We don't. Sell. Yak?” Each word is clipped and strangled, David doing his best to cling to the illusion that he’s patient. Patrick’s never heard his voice this high or this far from controlled (outside of bed, but he really can’t go there right now).

“Oh, I don’t know then. One of those...llama animals.” Mrs. Gleason waves a wrinkly hand in the air dismissively and Patrick can’t keep from sneaking a peek at David’s face over his shoulder. It’s still dangerously flat, but the corners of his beautiful mouth are twitching just slightly. As if saying to Patrick, okay, I’m letting you win this time.

“Oh!” David crows in his most obnoxiously loud, slow, faux-enthusiastic voice. “You must mean our sustainably farmed alpaca hoodies! Right this way, ma’am!” He beckons at her with a ridiculous, wide smile on his face, dropping it flat for a split second when he meets Patrick’s delighted gaze before pasting it on again. 

David directs Mrs. Gleason to the hoodies on the back shelf and she looks through the sizes, demands an XL because she “wants the most fabric for her money” and then leaves after David rings her up, but not before she makes another comment about his apparently freakish height. When he closes the door behind her, David leans back against it, shutting his eyes and pulling his lips into his mouth. Patrick would love to kiss his neck. 

“Thank you so much for that privilege,” David says as he opens his eyes again. He shakes his head, arms folded around himself as he walks back to the counter, stopping in front of it, across from Patrick.

“Oh I figured you probably really, really missed Mrs. Gleason,” Patrick answers, narrowing his gaze as he turns and slowly comes out from behind the register to rest on the same side of the counter as David. David rotates his body with Patrick’s, watching him carefully. His eyes are darkening in a way that makes Patrick’s mouth actually water and he shifts his hips, trying to adjust himself discreetly as he gets closer and closer, the space between them a sweltering moment of familiar smells and body heat. Their eyes meet and David pulls his lips into his mouth again but smiles a little, blinking slowly and happily. Patrick’s stomach flips. 

“Yep.” David nods. “Yep. I definitely missed Mrs. Gleason.” David blinks at Patrick again, their eyes speaking for a long moment, and warmth tingles deep in Patrick’s belly. “So, what else can I help with?” 

Patrick recognizes the look in David’s eyes—he’s teasing, yes, but there’s a layer of naked sincerity there, too, which sends a flash of pain through Patrick’s chest, knocking him breathless.

“Um.” He pulls out his phone to check the list again, suffocating from the headiness of the moment. “Well. Would you rather water the plants or break down the boxes for recycling?” 

“Well, seeing as I don’t want to break a sweat in this sweater with the hill-people watching me struggling to collapse flimsy cardboard in public like some sort of deranged maniac, I’ll water the plants.” David tilts his head and rolls his eyes. 

“If you water the plants you have to follow the rules, David.” Patrick’s voice is solemn and David’s eyes continue to roll; they’ve written an entire schedule for plant-watering that Patrick actually laminated and keeps on a shelf under the register.

“The only thing I like about watering are the rules! I might not be the best at reaching your standards but if I do everything on the list according to the instructions, you can’t blame me for any unexpected deaths. I still feel like I’m taking the worse option.”

“I don’t want you to take the worse option. I want you to take the option you’d rather do.”

“Okay well I would rather do the plants,” David concedes immediately, “it’s too hot outside to be jumping around like a wild baboon on shipping materials in a leather sweater.”  

“Okay, David,” Patrick grins, briefly touching David’s upper arm before walking around him towards the back exit. 

Truth is, Patrick finds breaking down boxes therapeutic; he’s enjoyed it since he was little. His mom always went to get a pair of scissors but by the time she got back, he’d have found the easiest way under the tape without damaging anything. It was almost like a little puzzle, as strange as that sounds. It’s soothing, productive, and Patrick always seems to think clearer when his blood pressure is a little up.

So he stands behind the store and he thinks about David and he breaks down boxes. There are a lot, so he has a bit of time. He’s noticed that David is looking at him differently now, something disarming held in his face. Patrick can’t tell if it’s good or bad yet, just that it makes his breath catch in his throat whenever their eyes meet. Did David read what he’d written in the little book he’d stashed the polaroids in? Did he understand? 

Is it fair to ask him to? 

He’s surprised how fast he feels tired. One of the boxes is held together by large staples in heavy plastic seams and it’s unusually difficult to collapse. Patrick has to work at it for a while, his strong forearms burning. He smiles to himself when he feels it give slightly and then pop crisply apart, the ends of the staples pointing upward as it unfolds. 

Patrick thinks he can be the stubborn box—painstakingly deconstructed and covered in sharp spots, but ready to start over. 

Maybe David can be, too. 

 


 

David is on the floor between Patrick’s knees, head thrown back and arms in the air, mouthing along to Tina Turner, and Patrick’s never felt this many things at once. The number of perfect moments in his life have skyrocketed since David slid into it, and this is absolutely one of them. He’s an endless surprise. Patrick throws his arms up in mirrored response, tilting his own head back and grinning wildly. David is glowing and open and soft, and so god damned handsome, hands resting on Patrick’s thighs as the song fades out. 

“Wow,” Patrick breathes, beaming at David shining up at him, “that was—I’ll never forget it.” 

“Well. I may have drunk like half a bottle of prosecco to get up the courage. So.”

Patrick chuckles, and, with a grunt of effort, slides off the edge of the chair to join David on the floor, walking on his knees into the space between David’s perfect thighs, their faces closer and closer. He’s surrounded by David’s smell—spicy, fresh, and warm—and the look in David’s eyes pins him there.

“I missed you,” Patrick mumbles, heart suddenly racing as his eyes drop to David’s perfect mouth, hands coming to rest on David’s hips.

And he falls in. Finally. 

The kiss is gentle at first but somehow still just at the edge of urgent, and it sends a shiver of anticipation down Patrick’s spine, David’s tongue eventually breaching Patrick’s mouth to trace the inside of his bottom lip. Patrick moans; he can’t help it. When they break apart, he smiles, the faint sweetness of prosecco now on his tongue too. David shakes his head, still breathless from his rousing performance.

“Okay, maybe—” he pants a little, eyes shining, throwing his head back, “—maybe three-fourths of a bottle.” 

“Ah. So that’s why you kept going back into the stock room,” Patrick nods, a fond smile on his face, squeezing David’s hips gently. “Well. Before anything else, we need to get you something to eat. If you wait here, I’ll go pick up...french toast? Extra whipped cream?” He looks at David pointedly and David waggles his eyebrows with excitement, sitting back on his heels and letting Patrick stand and make his way to the door.

“Hurry back,” David says as he stands up himself and moves the chair to its designated spot again, dark eyes dancing.

It only takes about 15 minutes for the cafe to fill the order because the dinner rush has mercifully passed. Patrick’s stomach is simultaneously hungry and anxious on the return walk, eager but apprehensive to have the chance to finally explain himself. When he arrives back at the store carrying the take-out bag, David’s leaning against the register counter, waiting. He walks toward Patrick with an excited shimmy, cheek dimpling slightly, and Patrick still can’t believe he’s really this lucky.

“Wanna eat in the office?” Patrick looks up at him, feeling suddenly bashful and David nods, his grin pinned to the side of his face. As he turns towards the stairs, Patrick slides an eager hand down from between David’s shoulders to the small of his back, supporting him gently.

Office is a generous word; there’s a small room and private half bath in the second level of the building that came with the lease. Patrick put in a desk and a couple chairs, planted some cacti to sit in the window. It’s nothing fancy but it’s good for quiet moments. And private ones—in these trying times, need often outweighs comfort.

“I think we should do some, um, truth telling.” Patrick sits down at the desk and David rolls the other chair up to the end of it, perching gingerly. The styrofoam container of french toast finds its home on the corner between them. David nods.

“So,” Patrick says, looking down at the toast and away from David’s eyes, which are currently burning straight through him.

“Patrick,” David says his name, watching him carefully, his face a mixture of merciful confusion and soft sympathy, “why didn’t you tell me? Because, I mean, yes, I wish I’d known but—it also must have been hell going through all of that alone.”

Patrick swallows and hesitates, wishing away the dryness in his mouth and the pounding at the back of his head.

“I...guess I was worried about...scaring you off?” He digs his left thumbnail into the skin of his right palm and drags it across his hand slowly, biting his bottom lip and looking up at David again before continuing. “Between being fresh out of the closet and fresh out of a 15 year relationship, I figured neither of those would necessarily be wildly attractive to you. I mean, you were so hesitant to even call us boyfriends, like it was this...I don’t know—this big, embarrassing thing.” 

Patrick can feel David’s eyes on him, dark and sad.

“Patrick.” David grabs his hand across the corner of the desk, voice low. “I was hesitant because I was scared.” He rolls his eyes and shrugs a shoulder. “If anyone should be embarrassed of us, it’s you. You deserve so m–”

“David, don't.” Patrick interrupts him, more loudly than he means, surprising them both with his sudden fierceness. He stiffens, sitting up straighter in the chair, his voice deep and rough. “Don’t talk about yourself like that,” he continues, softer but no less firm, “I don’t want that.” 

David tips his head back slightly, looking up at the ceiling of the little office, eyes clearly brimming again, and a pang of fondness echoes painfully through Patrick’s chest, knocking the breath out of his lungs. He squeezes his hand in David’s, softens.

“I know what I have with you.”

It’s simple, but it’s the truth, and Patrick lets it sink into the silence between them. David clears his throat, blinking tears away, and gives a small wet laugh.

“Sorry I’m just—I’m not good at this.” 

Patrick’s heart tightens and he shakes his head, downturned, slight pained smile on his face, before he looks back up at David.  

“That makes two of us.” Patrick’s thumb traces softly across the inside of David’s palm. “What else?”

“Um it’s a little tangential, if that’s okay?” David’s voice goes up timidly at the end of his question and Patrick gives a little nod of permission, studying David’s face hungrily. He can barely keep his hands to himself. “So, um. How many people have you slept with, then?”

David sounds so casual but Patrick’s cheeks burn immediately, the flush creeping up into the whites of his eyes, and he’s pissed about it, because, no matter what, he’s going to look embarrassed. He exhales.

“Um. Five,” he answers haltingly, letting go of David’s hand to focus on sawing away at the french toast and the styrofoam container underneath with more effort than necessary. He holds up a piece for David to eat. 

“Five,” David repeats, dodging the fork. Patrick continues to watch David’s mouth, avoiding his eyes.

“Yes. Five.” 

“Including me?”

“Including you,” Patrick confirms with a single nod.

David leans forward to take the bite, clearly deep in thought and Patrick’s stomach churns. His strong brow furrows and then relaxes again, face almost unnaturally neutral as he licks his lips then clears his throat.

“Thank you, Patrick.” He pauses. “Um, if you were planning to ask me the same question, don’t bother, because I don’t have an answer. I–hm–” David’s voice breaks and he takes a second before continuing, “I was on a lot of prescription narcotics and partaking in an equal amount of, um, not so legal substances before my family ended up here.” His face is illegible now and voice incongruously nonchalant, as if he’s trying not to put any weight behind his words though their implications are alarmingly heavy. His eyes dart to Patrick’s and then away again, uncharacteristically avoidant as he shifts in his chair. “My general awareness of the number or character of people in the room at any given moment wasn’t always….great.”

He busies himself with snatching the fork and stabbing a piece of the toast Patrick cut off, still not looking Patrick in the eye.

“David…” Patrick feels sick to his stomach at the thought of David heavily medicated and dangerously complacent. 

“It’s my own fault—I’m an idiot. I wish I was lying about being damaged goods.” David chokes out a bitter laugh. “You have—you have no idea how many people I’ve let use me, Patrick. I didn’t care about myself for such a long time. There’s a good chance with the amount of molly I’ve done that I’ve given myself Swiss cheese for a brain and I’ll forget my name in 10 years.” 

Patrick watches David’s face carefully but David refuses to meet his eyes.

“I’ll help you remember,” Patrick murmurs softly, reaching to grab David’s wrist around the back of the styrofoam container, thumb closing on the cool silver metal of David’s new bracelet, squeezing. Patrick thinks again about the day after he proposed to Rachel, how his own thoughts had skittered recklessly across the idea of doing something a lot worse than a bunch of molly, and infinitely more permanent. 

“What?”

“Your name. I’ll help you remember.”

David freezes for a second and Patrick sees his eyes fill, a tear spilling over his dark eyelashes as he eventually bobs his head in acknowledgement, patting the top of Patrick’s hand heavily with a noisy inhale that sounds suspiciously like a snort-sob, before he takes another bite in silence. After he finishes chewing, he meets Patrick’s gaze again.

“Um. Ok. So I need you to tell you something and I need you to not get upset or ask me too much because I’m not ready to talk about it yet.”

“Okay, David.” Patrick nods once, stomach churning at the concerning preface. He swallows and consciously sets his face in a neutral expression.

“So. When Sebastien was here in Schitt’s Creek, before we opened the store,” David begins, wrapping his arms around himself protectively and pulling his lips into his mouth, “I, um,”  he pauses and takes a deep breath and the back of Patrick’s neck prickles, “I slept with him.”

Patrick disguises a noise of distress by clearing his throat hurriedly. He hates what David just said with every fiber of his being but he promised he wouldn’t get upset, at least not here, not in front of David. 

“Was it consensual?” he asks after a long moment, voice strangled, reflexively clenching and unclenching a fist, watching his knuckles whiten. David looks at Patrick, eyes wide, and nods, lips pulled between his teeth again. 

“It was, um, more out of necessity than desire, but yes, I chose to do it.” 

“Then I feel like that’s all I really need to know.” Patrick busies himself with the toast, trying to ignore the fury for Sebastien that’s bleeding into his stomach. “But if you ever feel like—like talking about it, I’ll listen.”

Patrick stabs a piece of toast with his fork and dips it into the whipped cream before holding it out in front of David, and David leans forward to take the fork from him, popping the bite into his mouth, looking relieved in a way that twists Patrick’s heart.

“David, I know you can’t trust me right now; I don’t expect you to tell me anything until you’re ready,” Patrick continues, voice thick with shame. “I’m going to earn it back.” He nods to himself, as if to confirm his resolve. David’s still watching him carefully.

“I told Rachel.” The words keep spilling out of Patrick’s mouth before he gets a chance to second-guess them. He just hopes that he eventually lands on the right combination of things that will make David stay. David freezes for a moment and then consciously relaxes when he notes the uncertainty in Patrick’s eyes. “About us, I mean.”

“Mm. I know.” David runs his tongue between his lower lip and his bottom teeth, looking sheepish and warm fondness oozes over Patrick’s shoulders. “Um. In the spirit of honesty—she came into the store while you were at Town Hall talking to my mom last week. I gave her my card, before I knew who she was, and we...may or may not have texted, since. Is that weird?” 

David grimaces, baring his teeth and shrugging his shoulders. Patrick’s mouth goes dry and his first attempt at a response comes out as a gurgled inhale. He clears his throat and tries again.

“It’s not NOT weird, David.” David swallows down a coy smile as Patrick holds his gaze in amused disbelief for a moment. Patrick clears his throat and looks down, shaking his head.  David’s given him an out, probably unknowingly, but he still wants to say this. He inhales shakily before continuing.

“When I talked to her, that was, um—that was the first time I’d said I was gay. Out loud. To anyone.” 

His eyes sting and his throat tightens and David reaches for his hand again.

“Oh, honey,” he sighs, a soothing thumb stroking the back of Patrick’s knuckles. Patrick pulls his lips into his mouth, pressing them together firmly, and gives a watery smile. 

“It was ten years late, David. I can’t believe I wasted all that time.” 

“But you’re here now.” The matter-of-factness with which David speaks makes Patrick’s stomach ache with appreciation and need. “I think that, in this moment, we’re both exactly where we’re supposed to be...at exactly the right time.” David winces and widens his eyes as he haltingly finishes the sentence, as if he’s just realizing what he’s saying. “Hm. I never thought that combination of words would come out of my mouth consecutively. So that’s something.”

Patrick grins despite himself. He knows that somewhere deep down, David has a soft part for Schitt’s Creek, and that gives Patrick a soft part for him, among the numerous other soft parts he’s already harboring for the man in this leather sweater. And some not-so-soft parts.

“I’ve never felt like I was supposed to be somewhere more,” Patrick agrees. It’s mercifully the truth. “It’s just...Rachel’s the first person I’ve told from...before.” He rubs a hand through his short hair, frustrated, looking down. “I’m just starting to realize that I couldn’t figure out how to bridge before and now. And maybe that’s part of why I didn’t tell you.” 

David clears his throat and sits back, eyes narrowing slightly. He rolls his tongue in his mouth, indicating he’s thinking—assessing in the meticulous and thoughtful way he always does—but he says nothing, waiting for Patrick to continue. 

“Really, there’s me before you, and then there’s me after you.” 

Another merciful truth. 

“And I never wanted you to meet me before I knew you.” 

This makes no god damned sense, but David’s nodding like it’s the truest thing he’s ever heard. He clears his throat, wetting his lips.

“I didn’t want you to know me before I knew you either.” 

“Well. This was confusing.” 

“I don’t think so,” David says simply, eyes soft and honest. His hand overlaps Patrick’s, squeezes it and their knees knock together softly and then suddenly David is out of his chair, climbing onto Patrick’s lap and straddling him and Patrick’s pulling up on David’s sweater and undershirt, down on David’s pants, desperate for more, for anything. Needing everything. His hands are shaking and their mouths crash together and everything gets a little fuzzy around the edges.

Missedyoumissedyoumissedyou. Patrick murmurs desperately into David’s torso, face half against the leather sweater, half gloriously tasting skin. He slides his hand up to tweak a nipple with his thumb and David hisses, bucking slightly. He pulls Patrick’s face up to his to kiss him again and then breaks away, touching their foreheads together and putting his hands on Patrick’s shoulders, stilling him and Patrick whines, hips searching.  

Fuck, Patrick. I missed you so much but we cannot have makeup sex on a desk in our office. I’m in my mid-30s; I need a bed if you want me to fuck you properly.”

Patrick’s mouth falls open and he can feel his face catch fire; he’s speechless for a moment and panic lights David’s eyes. 

Unless that’s not what you want,” David rushes to add. “Zero pressure, honey, but, um, I thought—I thought, if it’s something you wanted, it might be easier for you to tell me you want it if I offer first?”

Patrick’s hands are steady on David’s thighs as he looks up at his handsome face, into his gorgeous, dark, warm eyes. Eyes that want to trust him. He swallows, wets his lips slowly, gaze flickering to David’s beautiful mouth. 

“David,” he rasps, “yes.”

David’s hand is on the back of his head, woven into the short hair. David tugs at it a little and the hair on the back of Patrick’s neck stands up, tingling deliciously. 

“What do you need?” David asks, his voice dangerously low and quiet, eyes still boring into Patrick’s relentlessly. Patrick swallows again, hips rolling reflexively under David’s weight.

“I need you inside me.” 

David stares down at Patrick in a way that makes his stomach completely disappear. He can’t feel his feet or his tongue and he’s well on his way to hard, David’s hand in his hair tugging firmly again.

“Okay.” He leans down to kiss Patrick gently. “Take me home.”

Chapter Text

One week ago

He decides it’s the freckle.

The one just above David’s ass, to the right of his spine.

It’s a perfect circle and it teases the edge of the right dimple at David’s lower back; they’ve just recently become intimately acquainted. Patrick loves to thumb over that perfect, sacred spot repeatedly—a silent promise on the occasions so far that he’s had the opportunity to bury himself deep in David’s impossible heat, his perfect body spread out before him. He traces over it again and again with the rhythm of his hips, and presses bruisingly when he comes.

That’s the spot he will miss the most.

Patrick reflects on this as he places the remaining cooked sliders on buns, an uncomfortable trickle of sweat running down his spine. He notes disdainfully that his underarms are damp too. The combination of the heat and the smell of charred meat actually makes him a little nauseous as he gathers the plate; that, and the realization that his world is actively crumbling under the new derbies that David had helped him choose a couple weeks ago, after his mountaineering shoes were deemed incorrect when not actively hiking.

His stomach tightens when he glimpses his guitar case out of the corner of his eye, leaning against one of the white plastic chairs. The original plan for tonight was to play a few songs after everyone finished eating, maybe at Mrs. Rose’s request, as the sky darkened and the stars came out. And then, tomorrow night, he and David would spend a healthy amount of time necking in his car at the Julia-Stiles-a-thon to celebrate their four-month anniversary, Heath Ledger serenading them in the background. A pair of perfect summer evenings.

Instead, he was probably going to drink a lot of whiskey and wake up sweaty, nauseous, and alone.

The Roses hover near the picnic table—Mr. and Mrs. Rose clinging together and Alexis with Stevie off to the side. Stevie breaks apart from them at Patrick’s wounded glance and walks over carefully, arms folded.

“Um. Hi.” she says softly.

“Hey,” Patrick answers quietly, looking back down at the table where he’s putting together the remaining sliders. Her voice is unusually gentle, biting edge gone.

“Um. Do you want me to get the sides?”

He nods, throat tight.

“Yeah, thanks. That would be great.”

She walks to the other table, the one far too close to David’s family, and returns with the potato salad and chips while Patrick finishes making the burgers. She watches him for a second as he clumsily spreads condiments on the buns.

“So. Rachel.” Stevie’s voice is somehow still casual. Patrick’s eyes dart up at her and then back down again at the plate of sliders. He clears his throat and nods.

“Yep. Rachel.”

Stevie shakes her head, tipping her chin down and staring at him with a look on her face that screams, Really? She weaponizes the potato salad spoon in her hand, smacking him solidly across the forearm. “What the fuck, Patrick?”

“I know, Stevie.” Patrick exhales shakily. “But I’m telling the truth. I’m not cheating on anyone. It’s over with her, it’s been over.“ He wipes the potato salad off his arm with a napkin before grabbing the spoon. “I’m just an idiot. A scared, selfish idiot.”

Stevie watches him carefully as he fixes a plate of sides for David, trying to make sure nothing touches.

“He’s scared too, you know.” Her arms are folded and she shrugs with a stiff laugh, staring him down pointedly. “Terrified, actually. Can’t imagine why.”

The comment draws blood and Stevie meant for it to.

“I know.”

She clears her throat as they both stare down at the two plates Patrick has piled with entirely too much food.

“So, um, do you want me to bring this to him or…were you going to?” Her voice is careful though it’s still a bit clipped. Patrick realizes, heart aching, that Stevie is still trying to be a good friend to him too, to give him what he needs, and it’s so much more than he deserves. He blinks back tears, eyes and throat burning.

“Um. I think it’s better if you do.”

Stevie’s head bobs.

“Okay. Yeah. That’s probably for the best.” She takes the plates and tilts her head in the direction of the motel. “And hey—speaking of people who you owe a shit ton of explanations—Rachel is in room 9.”

Patrick’s stomach vanishes completely and his mouth dries at the thought of Rachel’s face.

“Stevie," he calls her name again and she turns to look back at him. “I’m sorry. This wasn’t supposed to happen like this.” She shakes her head, her dark hair shining in the late afternoon sunlight, lips in a firm line.

“We’re not doing that right now. Not yet.”

Patrick’s chest clenches. He deserves that. David was Stevie’s first, and she loves him in a boundless, undefinable sort of way. She trusted Patrick to protect that part of her heart, and he didn’t.

“Take care of him.” Her dark eyes flash a confirmation but she doesn't answer.

“I’m pretty sure I’m not wrong about you,” she hums matter-of-factly. “Don’t fuck it up for me.”

As she turns, her chin tipped up purposefully, Patrick watches her walk back towards the motel, back to David’s room, and he’s thankful for her.

Stevie is David’s lighthouse; she can help him weather the storm.

 


 

Patrick had forgotten how beautiful Rachel is, in her breezy, uncomplicated way. He swears she hasn’t changed since the summer after finishing university; it’s like she's frozen in time, waiting for him to love her back.

When she lets him into the room, he awkwardly hovers for a second before leaning against the kitchenette, watching her timidly as she perches on the end of the bed.

“I’ve missed you, Rach.” He wears an upside-down smile and guilt floods the pit of his stomach as he thinks of the last time he saw her. How she stood in the parking lot of their apartment building in her pajamas and watched him drive away, the broken beacon of her body growing smaller and smaller in the rearview.

“So. This is where you’ve been the last six months.” Her face is illegible, copper hair falling softly around her pale shoulders. Swallowing, he nods, carding a nervous hand through his hair.

“Yep. I just—I needed some time.”

Rachel nods to herself, a heartbreakingly familiar look plastered across her face as she bites her lip, considering her words carefully. Her hands twist together in her lap.

“You always do.”

Of course she’s right; Patrick has been steadily retreating from her for years. He blinks and she tosses her head, red hair catching the afternoon sun, eyes sad. Patrick thinks again of the night he left, of Rachel on the bed in their apartment, same sad eyes. As he was packing, she kept begging him to stop, to slow down for a minute, to just talk to her. By then, he couldn’t even think straight, much less put what he was feeling into words.

“Patrick, don’t you think I realized you weren’t happy?”

“Did you?”

Rachel laughs, small and bitter, and he feels it stinging at the back of his throat. His stomach contracts painfully and his fist clenches against his thigh, blunt fingernails biting into his palm. A distraction. As revelatory as these four months with David have been, Rachel’s known him for fifteen years—fifteen formative years. In a way, she knows more about him than anyone else in his life; it’s unfair to assume she’s been blind to his pain.

“I was so worried about you for so long, Patrick—after university it felt like you were sleepwalking through our life and there was no waking you. Nothing made you happy. Nothing made you sad. Nothing made you...anything, really. And I tried—I planned trips, bought lingerie, got you that new guitar, made you come to yoga with me, sent you links to therapists. But nothing seemed to make a difference. We woke up the morning after you proposed and some stupid part of me was hoping that everything would be magically fixed between us but you were just...gone.” She shakes her head again with another caustic laugh. “Not to mention the truly insane amount of bourbon you went through—remember that night we went out to dinner with Amanda and Andrew?” Patrick’s stomach flips. “I was sleeping alone in our bed a long time before you physically left.”

The day after the proposal springs vividly into Patrick’s head. He had felt like he was moving in slow motion, trying to breathe underwater; everything seemed fuzzy and far away. They made so many calls to friends and family and his face hurt from plastering on a smile so that you could hear it in his voice. A few times his eyes met Rachel’s over the phone held between them on speaker and he could tell she saw it—the Empty.

After she fell asleep that night, he leaned against the railing of their balcony, the silence of the dark sky suffocating him into drunken submission. Slowly and deliberately, he let the empty rocks glass he was holding slip out of his hand and over the edge, watching with misguided pleasure as it shattered cleanly on the sidewalk several stories below. The shards glistened in the light of the street lamp, inviting; it would have been that easy.

“I’m so sorry,” he whispers, quietly swallowing the weight of that thought’s existence. A tear slips over her eyelashes and down her cheek and Patrick wants to hold her then. She looks up at him with full eyes and he can’t breathe, guilt ballooning painfully inside his aching chest.

“We were never going to get married, were we?” she asks, smiling bitterly as tears continue to fall, looking at Patrick for confirmation. He’s silent as he watches her, his head barely shaking no, and she nods, biting her bottom lip and dragging it between her teeth for a long moment to keep her chin from trembling. With a shaky inhale, she continues. “One of us just needed to be brave enough to walk away.”

“What I did was the opposite of brave, Rach,” Patrick murmurs quietly, his eyes cast down and voice cracking as a sob crawls up the back of his throat. “But I just couldn’t. I love you so much, but I could never give you what you deserve.”

“What if I don’t care about what I deserve?” She takes a shuddering breath and Patrick can barely breathe himself from the crushing guilt on his chest. “I just want you home. I miss you, Pat.”

Standing in front of her as she openly cries, he hates himself. He knows he has to tell her then, about everything—about David. She deserves to understand why it’s the best thing for both of them; he can’t bear the thought of Rachel leaving Schitt’s Creek feeling like she’s done something wrong, like she wasn’t good enough to fix him.

It’s not fixable. It just is.

“Rachel.” Patrick pauses after he says her name, terrified, suddenly realizing it’s the first time these words have ever come out of his mouth. “I think I’m gay.”

Rachel’s eyes flicker darkly as she looks up at him from the bed and then narrow. She shakes her head like she misheard him.

“What?”

“David—David is—” He takes a deep breath and tries again. “David and I have been together for four months.”

Rachel closes her eyes, eyelashes wet, pressing her lips together. Patrick notes a soft hitch in her chest as she inhales. She shakes her head again, brow furrowed.

“What?” she repeats. Patrick can see her trying to unpack what he’s just unloaded. “So being with me for fifteen years was just, what, friendly obligation, then? You’re together like...sleeping together?”

Patrick cringes at the note of anger in her voice. Obligation. Before they broke up, he had operated on auto-pilot for so long, exceeding every reasonable expectation as a son, boyfriend-turned-fiancé, employee. He never missed an appointment, a meeting, a cousin’s baby shower, a family dinner. Every role was executed flawlessly. Patrick poured all his energy into being what everyone else needed him to be so he didn’t have to choose for himself. Her eyes burn him again and he forces himself to meet her gaze.

“Yeah, Rach. Together like sleeping together.” Patrick repeats the words against his better judgment, cheeks burning at the admission of intimacy, spitefully echoing the bitterness of Rachel’s tone and delivery. Her face reddens but she continues, stubbornly.

“How didn’t you know?”

It’s a question Patrick has asked himself over and over with no real answer. But god, David was undeniable.

“Rach, don’t you think it’s embarrassing for me?” His voice is hoarse with emotion. “But I—hm—I just never felt...right.”

Patrick blinks at her softly as she stares back at him, her face set in an almost challenging expression. Not right—his most familiar feeling. Like a pebble in his hiking boot. For most of his relationship with Rachel, he was uneasy, waiting for the second boot to drop. Waves of fresh fear washed over him at night, settling in his spine, nipping at the back of his head on the pillow as he lay awake next to someone he could never give forever.

And then there was David. David who just unlocked him. David, who burrowed straight into his soul and found his home there immediately. Every moment with David was Patrick’s brain saying Oh! over and over, finally understanding how to pivot, how to connect. Oh. It’s you.

“And now you do?”

“Yeah. Yeah. Now I do,” Patrick echoes, nodding at her as tears swell at the back of his throat again. Rachel’s cheeks are wet too, her lips pressed together firmly, but chin faltering in a way that breaks his heart. “Can I?” he asks thickly, gesturing at the bed.

She nods hesitantly and he crosses the room, settling on the comforter beside her. They don’t touch but the smell of her hair transports Patrick as she turns to look at him. Up close, he can tell she hasn’t been sleeping well. He remembers when they’d had a pregnancy scare in university—she didn’t get more than a few hours rest at a time for days then, either.

“You love him,” she declares as she watches his face, a statement rather than a question. Her eyes are hurt but also proud in a way that makes Patrick ache—like she’s proud that she knows him so well, but prouder of him for figuring it out for himself.

His silence is an adequate answer and she purses her lips, nodding resolutely.

“That’s that, then,” she says, almost to herself, folding her hands together and turning away as if to get up.

“Rach—“

“Patrick.” She stops him before he can say more and he can tell she’s about to cry, chin shaking so violently it echoes in her words. “I came here to get an answer. And, um, I’m happy for you. Really, I am. But I’m—I’m really gonna need some time, okay?”

He clamps his mouth shut, eyes wet. Heart raw.

“I love you.” She looks at him again, voice softer, sadder. “But I can’t be your cheerleader right now.”

Out of an old but still familiar habit, Patrick reaches for Rachel’s hand and she hesitantly lets him take it.

“I’m not asking you for anything like that,” he mumbles as he runs his other hand over his face and looks down at her hand in his. “I just miss you.”

“I miss you too.” She gently frees her fingers from his and squeezes his wrist once. “But you should really go.”

 


 

When Patrick leaves, he immediately runs into Alexis who has, of course, been conspicuously hovering outside Rachel’s window, pretending to look for cell service. Her blue eyes narrow slightly as she sees him.

“You’ve got to stop putting everything you own and your hands in your pockets,” she scolds as he approaches her. “Your jeans are tight enough as it is. You know. From all those yummy little secrets you’ve been holding in.”

She shakes her head as she tilts her chin up and squints at him again. It’s impressive to Patrick how well Alexis communicates disdain with just a small, almost feral flicker of her eyelashes. His face burns as he shamefully meets her gaze.

“Alexis, I—”

“Mm. Shh. No.” She waves her hand to silence him and shakes her head again, blue eyes as serious as Patrick has ever seen them. “Patrick, you can’t do this again. Ever.”

They’re quiet, Patrick biting his lips and Alexis staring back at him in the dusk.

“I know,” he agrees and looks down. “I’m so sorry, Alexis. I just.” He clears his throat in frustration. “I didn’t want to ruin this. And now I think I might have.”

“Um, were you worried we’d judge you, or something? Do you really think we seem like judgy people, Patrick?”

“...Alexis.” He knows his face will betray him if his words don’t. She huffs dramatically.

“Okay, so, fine—we might be superficially, like, a little judgy, but Patrick—look at me and David. I’ve had three DUIs and wrecked, like, four...teen, fourteen cars. I’m just getting a degree and I’m basically 30. The longest David’s ever been in a relationship is 4 months...no offense. Who are we to judge literally anyone?” Rolling her eyes, she throws out a hand in a dramatic shrug, her dark golden hair shining softly. Patrick appreciates the sincerity laced in her self-deprecation.

“Alexis.”

She stops, blinks back at him.

“I’m sorry,” Patrick says.

“Mm, I know. Um. Thank you, Patrick.”

Patrick dips his head in acknowledgement and then turns to walk around her until she catches him by the forearm with polished fingers.

“Hey, um, if you need help with the store or anything, you can just text me.” She shakes the hand holding her phone softly, its charm swinging. “I’m still, like, mad at you, though.”

Patrick’s stomach swoops with appreciation—a welcome break from the bottomless pit of guilt he’s fallen into. Alexis scrunches her nose at him almost sympathetically.

“Thank you, Alexis. I’m going to make this right.”

She nods.

“Yep. I know you will.”

Alexis

Aug 23, 2017 10:34 PM Hi Alexis. Could you tell me what those round, white flowers were that David liked so much from that farmer’s market Mutt told you about?
The super puffy ones with tons of petals?
I think those are ranunculus.
Thanks, Alexis






Chapter Text

Six days ago

Thursday morning, after getting maybe no sleep, Patrick orders David’s flowers. He’s relieved to find a nearby florist that has an online form; he hadn’t been thrilled at the prospect of dictating romantic and vaguely sexual poetry over the phone to a possibly underage floral shop assistant, who would undoubtedly transcribe it messily in high-school handwriting.

It’s the worst day he’s ever had at the store, and that includes the time he’d gotten food poisoning from that lobster roll he’d bought in Elmdale. “As tempting and delicious as it might be, there is nothing safe or hygienic about landlocked, small-town lobster,” David had said, watching Patrick eat the roll with narrow eyes and shaking his head. And David had unfortunately been proven correct about an hour or so later, when Patrick’s body decided it needed to rid itself of the apparently questionable crustacean. He’d spent most of the second half of that day running to the bathroom, leaving confused customers in his wake and waving at David to cover for him, face burning with embarrassment. David surprisingly never even said I told you so—just made sure to keep Patrick hydrated and rubbed his back soothingly when he hunched over the register counter in intestinal distress. It was truly nightmarish, but at least David was there.

There are no customers the first hour after opening, and Patrick spends it frenetically pacing laps around the floor, the hollowness of exhaustion pressing insistently against the inside of his eyelids. He finishes his tea too quickly and hasn’t eaten breakfast so the acidic burn of caffeine on an empty stomach is particularly raw as it slowly creeps up the back of his throat and his brain can’t stop replaying that look of disbelief and betrayal on David’s face. It makes him want to disappear.

He doesn’t know what he’ll do if David doesn’t forgive him, and all he has is time to think about it. The store is too quiet without David mindlessly humming or choosing a playlist or relaying proper exfoliation techniques. He misses the spark, the life David gives the Apothecary. It would never be the same without him; it couldn’t be. Just the thought makes Patrick palpably nauseous. If David doesn’t forgive him, Patrick would still have to stay for their business—at least through the first year, to make sure it’s off the ground, and long enough to train someone to replace him. Then he’d take enough of his shares of the store to walk away and gift David the rest; David deserves for this idea to succeed and Patrick—well, Patrick deserves to lose everything.

He thinks about Rachel’s face as he told her yesterday, how much his chest hurt as he left her room. He wonders vaguely if she’s already back home and something in the pit of his stomach turns icy with sudden panic. Would she tell everyone about him? Patrick thinks he knows her better than that, but the idea has him anxious enough to pull out his phone and open their texts. Scrolling up, he reads back through her messages over the last couple months, ending with the short conversation they had that morning before the barbecue. In hindsight, it’s all exponentially more ominous.

Rachel

June 20, 2017 hdnrsg
Oops sorry pocket text
How are you doing?
July 18, 2017 We all got together at Screwtop for Andrew’s birthday last night. Everyone misses you.
Aug 22, 2017 Do you remember where we kept the third spare key for the apartment?
Aug 23, 2017 Hey. I miss you.
Not sure why I even bother texting you. You never answer.
I saw your mom yesterday. She told me you’re in Schitt’s Creek?
Hey. Yeah. I am.
Wow. Hi.
Worried I’m going to come find you?
Rach please don’t.
I can’t right now.
When can you?




So, yea, he clearly should have given her an actual response. Any of those times. He sighs heavily with regret, then takes another breath and haltingly composes a timid greeting.

Rachel

Wow. Hi.
Worried I’m going to come find you?
Rach please don’t.
I can’t right now.
When can you?
Aug 24, 2017 9:52 AM Hey. I wanted to make sure you made it home safe
I did
Good
I also wanted to ask you if you could please not tell anyone what I told you. You’re the first person from home who knows.
Actually. You’re the first person I’ve ever said that out loud to.
Wow. Yeah. Okay. I’m not going to say anything
But you’ve got to at least tell your mom and dad, Pat. Soon. I can’t avoid them forever.
I know. I will.




Well. That’s one potential crisis averted. Except now his head is spinning again, this time at the prospect of eventually coming out to his entire old life. His childhood friends. His college baseball teammates.

His parents.

Mercifully, the bell rings at 10:15, and Patrick is grateful for the distraction as Ronnie sidles in, looking bemused.

“Patrick Brewer.” She walks up to the register wearing her signature smirk and puts a hand on her hip, shaking her head slightly. “What have you done?”

“Hi Ronnie.” He looks down, shoving his hands into his pockets. “So you heard.”

“Word travels fast around here.” She narrows her eyes at him. “You doing okay?”

“Um,” Patrick says, taking a hand out of his pocket and setting it on the counter, shifting his weight to one side and looking around the room.

“Fair.” She glances around the store and then back at him. “Well. Take it easy on yourself. We’ve all been there.”

Patrick can’t help it. He leans forward onto the counter on his elbows and rests his chin in his hand, squinting up at her, upside-down smile on his face.

“Have we all, though?” he asks, giving a short chuckle, in spite of himself. “I feel like the situation is actually pretty unique. You know—late bloomer gay man doesn’t tell new boyfriend about his essentially lifelong heterosexual would-have-been marriage that he ended by running away in the middle of the night, until said ex winds up at the same motel his boyfriend is living in, trying to win him back. Crashing a barbecue with the boyfriend’s entire family in the process.”

Ronnie listens, eyes wider and wider and eyebrows raised, and then she throws her head back in a roar of a laugh. For a brief moment, Patrick’s stomach unclenches slightly and he’s thankful. After she catches her breath, she winks at him.

“Okay, fair point, kid. I guess I meant that in a more general sense. You know.” She rolls her eyes and shrugs. “The whole communication thing.”

“Yeah. I mean.” Patrick clears his throat and then stands back up, hands on his hips. “Clearly I need practice.”

“Who doesn’t?” Ronnie winks again and begins to saunter off towards the back of the store. “Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to go pick up more of that hand cream. Vanessa can’t get enough of it, and I can’t get enough of Vanessa.” She wiggles her eyebrows and Patrick blushes, looking down at his feet again like a kid. “Plus—soft hands.”

After Ronnie leaves, Patrick restocks the facial moisturizer while he thinks about David’s hands. Hands that scratch his back absentmindedly while he stands at the register. Rub at his shoulders after particularly long inventory days. Lather his hair in the shower.

Hands that fuck into him while Patrick begs.

“Excuse me—do you have any more of these?” A teenage girl standing near the accessories section holds up a scrap fabric scrunchie made by Mrs. Guzman, a surprisingly talented “no-waste” tailor between Elm Glen and Schitt’s Creek. After they’d met her, David had even mentioned possibly giving her a trial run on a simple alteration or two for his own wardrobe.

Patrick shakes his head to clear it of the less-than-appropriate subject matter. His brain stutters before coming to life.

“Um, I think we actually just got another shipment in. Let me go check the back.”

When he wanders into the stock room, he’s overwhelmed by the scent, the memories of David. In the month or so after the store opened but before they got together, he’d spent way too much time here, just trying to keep his cool while David’s mere existence completely reconfigured his entire reality. And then once they’d finally kissed, their time spent in this space was just endless teasing resulting in incredible combustion, over and over.

By the time he makes his way back out, box of scrunchies tucked under one arm, the girl is hovering awkwardly by the register, clearly uncomfortable, but too polite to have just left. He sets the box on the counter in front of her.

“Finally found ‘em!”

He winces. He’d been aiming for excitement but his tone landed somewhere between apathetic and sarcastic.

“Thank you so much for checking! Sorry if it was a pain,” she says, cringing as she picks through the new selection.

“No, no. Thanks for your patience. I’m, um. I’m not myself today.”

And with David gone, that’s the truth.


Five days ago

Alexis

Aug 24, 2017 4:54 PM Hey! I’m coming to the store
To help you
You don’t have to do that
But I really appreciate it
I could use a hand with dusting and straightening up the shelves
Okay so no actually I was thinking I could work on more of like a vibe refresh
Hm 🤔
Whatever we’ll talk when I get there




 

Alexis bursts through the door of the Apothecary with the unbridled confidence of a baby rhinoceros, the lace bow around her neck fluttering from the sheer velocity of it all. Patrick raises his non-existent eyebrows as high as they can go, weight shifted to his right side but both hands resting in a wide grip on the counter.

“Um, hi, sorry,” she says, phone charm swinging wildly from her hand as the door bangs shut behind her. She accidentally kicks the basket of organic muslin dish towels on the floor in front of the center display, sending a couple strays flying. Patrick gives her a bemused and baffled upside-down smile as he strolls out from behind the register and bends over to retrieve the ejected linens.

“No worries. You seem...flustered,” he says slowly, sliding the basket back to its original location with his foot and dropping the towels back in.

“Ugh, I know. It’s just this stupid thing with Ted and Miguel.” She rolls her eyes and flips her hair agitatedly before she pops herself up on the register counter, long legs crossed. Patrick’s not sure if he’s supposed to ask or not, so he waits and lets her offer instead. She doesn’t.

“So. I’m happy to report that David likes the flowers. I don’t think he’s read the card yet but he stares at them all the time and does this little head shake.” She pantomimes an exaggerated blissful wag of her head, eyes narrowing. “It reminds me of, like, a happy lil’ lizard in the sun or something.”

Patrick can’t help but chuckle at the surprisingly specific comparison, especially since he knows full well how much it would disgust David.

“I’m glad he likes them.” He looks down at his hands shoved into his pockets as he rocks forward slightly, suddenly very self-conscious. “How, um, how is he?”

Alexis tilts her head to almost rest on her right shoulder as she looks back at him from her perch on the counter, face scrunching thoughtfully.

“Um. Better, I think? He slept like...most of the day yesterday. Stevie left him a couple joints so for a while he was alternating between getting super high and napping, which is actually, like, a very valid form of self-care.” Patrick can tell her claim is backed by the weight of experience. He’s never been much of a weed kind of guy—it made him feel uncomfortably exposed, out of control, when he’d smoked in the past, whether in college or afterwards at house parties. But that may also have been the people he was around. If he and David could get really high together and then alternate between fucking and napping, he’d definitely be on board.

“Anyway,” Alexis continues, “I came here from the motel and he seemed awake and sober when I left. He even had the energy to complain. So, like, nature is healing, I guess.”

Alexis blink-winks at him from where she sits on the counter and reaches to grab a fresh lip balm. Patrick watches her quietly.

“Do you think he’s going to forgive me?” he asks, hating himself for sounding like a twelve year old at recess playing a game of telephone with his crush’s friend.

“Mm.” Alexis’s eyes are soft and she smiles as she lifts her hand to tap his nose. The nonchalance should bother him, but because it’s Alexis, it doesn’t. It’s sincere. She blink-winks again. “He might not know it yet, but he already has.”

David

Aug 24, 2017 7:16 PM Don’t worry. I'm not giving Alexis free reign. And she’s limited to ten hashtags on any social media post.
Did you get the flowers?





Four days ago

It’s Saturday morning when Patrick finally hears from David. When he gets the text, he’s at the store again, leaning over the counter by the register, staring at the door. In the last few days, he’s allowed himself to feel almost nothing, something he’s had years of practice to perfect. After all, he’s spent the majority of the last decade pretending to be happy with what everyone else wanted for him.

David

Aug 24, 2017 7:16 PM Don’t worry. I'm not giving Alexis free reign. And she’s limited to ten hashtags on any social media post.
Did you get the flowers?
Aug 25, 2017 11:17 AM If you need anything from me, I’m going to be out of town overnight
Stevie is taking me to Crystal Elms. She had a Groupon.
That’s surprisingly generous of Stevie
2:43 PM That’s what I said
I hope you have a good time, David.




 

Stevie is taking him to a spa.

Hm. How nice for them.

Patrick tries to tamp down the ugly curl of jealousy swelling in the pit of his stomach, a foreign sensation he doesn’t want lingering. Stevie is taking care of David the best way she knows how. That’s what Patrick wants her to do—and she doesn’t owe him anything anyway. He doesn’t expect allegiance from her.

But it’s the first he’s heard from David since Wednesday, and he hates it. Hates not talking, not touching. No “good morning”s, no “goodnight”s. No happy lunches. No elegant, well-manicured hand tucked cheekily into the back pocket of his jeans while they stood at the register. No running fashion commentary on customers whispered in his ear when things were slow. No furtive makeouts in the store room or hasty blow jobs in the office.

He feels like an asshole. He is an asshole.

He doesn’t deserve any of that. He should be alone, staring at nothing. He shouldn’t even feel sorry for himself; he shattered the universes of two people in a matter of minutes. He’s not a good person.

Patrick unlocks his phone again and opens the camera roll. His heart throbs as he taps a photo from a couple weeks ago. It’s David, freshly awake, his mussed head on the pillow next to Patrick’s. He’d stayed overnight on a Saturday since they open late on Sundays, and they’d spent most of the extra morning hours in bed.

In the photo his eyes are dark and incredibly soft and open in the way only sleep and Patrick can make them; it stirs something at the center of Patrick’s soul. He’s just barely smiling, but it’s there, and there’s a peek of his collarbone above the low neckline of his sleep tee. Patrick remembers telling David he looked beautiful as the morning sun spilled into the room, and David had rolled his eyes but grinned all the same. Patrick knew then.

By the time the day is over, Patrick’s ready to crawl out of his skin. When he locks up, he walks over to the Cafe and asks Twyla to pour him a shot of anything, which she somehow takes as an invitation to combine everything. Whatever. It gets the job done. So does the second. And the third. Twyla keeps pouring and he keeps drinking and eventually it’s almost midnight and she’s politely but firmly walking him out of the cafe in front of her as she turns the lights off, but not before asking if he wants her to call someone. If there were anyone he could call, it would be Stevie, but no—Stevie is at Crystal Elms, in bed with his boyfriend.

No, Patrick walks back to Ray’s alone, very drunk and kinda cold. Definitely weirdly sweaty. His arms and legs are light but his head feels like a bag of wet sand as he makes his way down the sidewalk in the cool night air. He thinks about what David is doing now. Maybe he and Stevie are talking about it. Maybe Stevie will actually stick up for him. Patrick honestly still can’t read her.

He hopes that David can enjoy himself and relax, and he hopes they drank the entire bottle of wine Patrick sent, and that David maybe thought about him when his lips touched the glass. David had texted earlier to thank him. He should be happy that David is even making the smallest of small talk with him, but it just reminds Patrick of what he might not have again.

When he stumbles up to his room, he turns on his bedside lamp and sprawls on the bed, grateful that Ray is staying with Robin in Elm Glen overnight so he won’t have to explain himself for once. He clumsily undoes his shirt buttons, rolling to kick off his shoes and tug the sleeves off his shoulders and down his arms. Throwing the crumpled button-up haphazardly onto the ground, he peels off his jeans and kicks them off the bed with a muffled thump. He lies there in his boxer briefs and undershirt, staring up at the fan as the room swells around him, one hand on his stomach, feeling his heartbeat in his diaphragm.

If David was here, they’d probably still be mostly naked, dozing. Actually, David would probably be completely out—he gets that way after the type of orgasm Patrick would have given him—and Patrick would be trying to read a book over his dark, gorgeous head in the low light of the lamp, but then would get distracted by the smell of his hair and it would generally all be over after that, Patrick turning down the light to lie in the dark, David still on his shoulder, falling asleep to the thoughts of a future he finally wanted to dream about.

They’d been so close.

His stomach clenches and he reaches for the water on his bedside table and thinks about the last time he was this drunk.

It was a few weeks after he proposed to Rachel, a Saturday afternoon, and Rachel was fresh out of the shower, hair wet and skin dewy and soft. She was curled up demurely in her towel on their bed and Patrick was doing his best to tactfully ignore her signals. They were supposed to be meeting Rachel’s friend, Amanda, and her husband, Andrew, for dinner in an hour, and Rachel was going to ask Amanda to be her maid of honor.

“Hey. Come here,” Rachel murmured in a low voice that she rarely ever used, but one he’d been hearing more frequently lately. Her Last Resort voice.

Patrick knew she wanted sex; they hadn’t slept together since the proposal, and he could tell the energy between them was getting weird and strangled. She’d made eye contact with him in the mirror the entire time she’d undressed and then hinted at wanting company in the shower, but he’d feigned blissful ignorance. Hesitantly, he walked from where he was loitering in front of the vanity to stand by the nightstand, above her. When they made eye contact, Rachel let her towel fall open and Patrick’s heart sank.

“Rach—” he started.

Please, Patrick.” She grabbed his wrist and, softening at the need in her eyes, he let her pull him down and onto her, her still damp skin against his clothes. She kissed him hungrily as she untucked his shirt, hands reaching between her legs for his belt, his fly. He should’ve been loving it, but instead he was dissociating. Her hands were in his pants and then his underwear and she was taking them off while he was trying to remember the last time sex hadn’t been the most stressful part of his day.

“C’mon, Pat. I want you.” Rachel’s voice was smooth and gentle and her touch was warm and soft and she knew his body but his mind was a thousand miles away. He let his torso rest flush against her as her hand worked between them, his own palm cupping her breast as he kissed her neck. The more she opened to him, the more she searched with her mouth and her hands, the more the guilt and embarrassment built painfully in his chest.

“Mm. Hold on,” he grunted as her hand stilled, pushing up and sitting back onto his heels, dry-mouthed and fumbling. “Just give me a minute.”

It only became more apparent as the seconds ticked by that their efforts were futile. Dropping his hands to his thighs in humiliating defeat, face burning, Patrick crawled back up toward Rachel, kissing her kneecap apologetically. His mouth pressed hot and open up the inside of her thigh and she sighed, a hand woven in Patrick’s longer curls. The compromise. He was working his way up to the crease of her hip when he felt her stiffen, a hand coming under his chin to lift it.

“Hey it’s fine. Don’t worry about it.” Her voice was choked casual as she rolled out from underneath him. “I have to dry my hair anyways. We need to leave for dinner in 45 minutes.” She gathered the wet towel around herself again and went back into the bathroom, closing the door behind her, and Patrick sat alone on their bed wearing a shirt and no bottoms, feeling like the world’s biggest fraud.

Rachel didn’t talk, barely looked at him until they got to the restaurant, and even then she hurried to dive into a side conversation with Amanda, leaving Patrick to awkwardly mingle with Andrew as they sipped their beers, talked about the Jays, and stared at each other. He was sure they were both thankful when Rachel finally asked her question and Amanda shrieked a yes and it was done. All before they even really looked at the menu.

Amidst the excitement, Andrew had clapped Patrick on the shoulder and welcomed him into the ‘husband club’ with a chuckle and a raise of his bottle. Patrick barely managed to fake a smile and then immediately excused himself to the restroom, making a pitstop at the bar to down three fingers of whiskey, neat, in a swallow. The bartender looked concerned as she pulled the empty glass back.

“I’m getting married,” Patrick rasped, clearing the burn of the alcohol from his throat with a small cough.

“Are you sure?” she asked, a wry half smile on her face as she turned back to the tap.

And Patrick ordered two more fingers.

Rachel had to drive them home halfway through dinner. It was humiliating, but she generously said nothing, just helped him out of the car and up the stairs to their apartment. He was pretty sure he pissed his pants because when he woke up on the floor in the bathroom, there was some general unaccounted for wetness. By that point he was still a little drunk, but much more functional and heading to hung-over, and he took the energy arc to shower and clean himself up, take care of his clothes. It was almost three in the morning by the time he slipped into bed with Rachel, exhausted. She was cool and soft next to his uncomfortable dizziness and he took a minute to brush her hair away from the back of her neck and kiss her there.

Grateful.

Sorry.

But when she stirred and turned over to face him, his heart ached.

“Hi,” she mumbled, voice rough with sleep, a small hand finding his elbow. Her eyes were still closed. “Did you shower? Are you feeling any better?” She pulled his wrist up to her mouth and then kissed the knuckle of his middle finger softly. “I’m sorry I left you in there. You kept insisting and I was too tired to fight you tonight. I made sure you were on your side, though.”

“Yeah,” he breathed, “yeah. Don’t worry. It’s fine. I’m fine. I’m clean. Go back to sleep.”

She flopped back over and Patrick turned his head to watch her in the dark, her small frame moving slightly with her breathing. After a while, it evened out and her weight settled into the mattress as she relaxed into deeper sleep. He turned his head to look back up at the ceiling and thought about how much better she deserved.

Not being able to get hard was one of the most shameful, difficult things about his relationship with Rachel. But it hasn’t been an issue since David. On the contrary, Patrick has never in his life had so many inconvenient erections; the waistband tuck is actually starting to become a chafing issue.

The spins are making him hot, so he takes off his t-shirt lazily to find that he actually already has a sort of waistband tuck situation going; thinking about how David makes him hard is making him hard. How is this real?

Patrick palms the head of his cock over his underwear and thinks about the other day when he’d crowded David into the corner of the stockroom after they’d closed. David was facing the shelf, checking the date on the labels of their organic pine nut oil when Patrick came up behind him, his chest to David’s back. He was already hard, pressing himself in the crease of David’s ass through his jeans, hands on David’s hips for leverage, mouth hot and open on his neck. David leaned back into him and then, when Patrick surfaced for a single, distracted breath, David turned and captured Patrick’s wrists in each hand, pinning them against the shelf above his head, hips hard against hips. They didn’t kiss, just watched each other’s faces as the friction built, sharp and bright, like a cigarette to a house fire.

”I want to fuck you,” David had breathed as he moved both of Patrick’s wrists to one hand and reached down to slip the other between their bodies, rubbing Patrick over his jeans. Patrick groaned, thrusting helplessly against the contact. He was pretty sure David hadn’t meant to say that out loud, but god damn was he glad that he did.

He hasn’t stopped thinking about it.

Lying alone in his bed, Patrick gets the lube from the bedside table and closes his eyes and tries to imagine David between his legs, but the room moves too much around him, his stomach pitching, so he opens them again. He pulls up his camera roll, opens the picture of David in bed, and he feels like crying but also wants to see David come. He tries to remember, tries to focus on those sounds he’s tucked away in his memory from the smattering of occasions where they both could be loud, to bring up mental pictures he’s taken; it’s not enough.

God he misses David.

It’s late as he sits up against his pillow. Really late. He should just go to sleep, shouldn’t make things worse, but he can’t stop thinking. He closes the photo and scrolls through his contacts, then taps the FaceTime button.

It doesn’t ring for long and before Patrick can change his mind, there’s David’s tired, beautiful face on the screen and he feels hot tears pricking his eyes.

“Um. Hi.”

“David,” he murmurs, drinking him in.

David gives a small, expectant bob of his head and Patrick cards a hand through his hair, clearing his throat.

“I miss you,” Patrick’s voice breaks and he feels himself flushing deeper, and David’s face flickers with what looks like recognition.

“Patrick...” David starts softly and then trails off as Patrick meets his eyes. They’re darker than usual in a way that means David wants him and the fullness in Patrick’s belly is punctuated by heat.

“David,” Patrick prays again, “I miss you.”

David inhales sharply.

“What do you miss, honey?”

Honey. Patrick loves when David calls him honey. The word curls around him, sweet and slow, settles gently deep in his chest. Makes him feel...cherished. Patrick never felt special until David; he never thought he deserved to.

“Mm. I miss…” Patrick bites his bottom lip. “Hearing you say my name. Watching you at the store; you always look so proud. Your smile. How you take care of me.”

David shakes his head, and Patrick could have seen that response coming from miles away. Because David’s been made to believe he’s a burden his entire life, even when he’s actually been the one shouldering most of the weight.

“I’m not very good at that.”

Patrick’s eyes blur: part fondness, part alcohol, and he gives David a tight smile.

“Yes you are. You take care of everyone. You pretend you’re selfish, but you’re not, David.”

David rolls his eyes, beautiful face framed perfectly by the screen and Patrick wishes he could lean in and kiss the self-doubt away.

“Clearly you’ve learned nothing from four months of dating me.”

“I’ve learned a lot, actually.” Mind circulating through all the very fun things David has taught him, Patrick’s cock twitches with interest. He rocks his hand over himself experimentally, eyes lingering on David’s lips, a pang of desire rocketing through him as he tugs at his waistband.

“And I miss your mouth. God. Your perfect, sloppy mouth.” He’s fully touching himself now, boxer briefs pulled down under his balls, biting his lower lip to keep from whimpering. David can’t see what he’s doing, but something in his eyes tells Patrick that he knows. Patrick’s other hand props the phone up on the pillow next to him to free itself. He’s really doing this—Patrick, who used to blush getting undressed in the dark in front of Rachel.

“Incorrect,” David murmurs, voice velvety and deep, and the hairs on the back of Patrick’s neck stand up.

“I miss being inside you.”

And Patrick does. He really, really does. It’s only been a week since he last buried himself in David and, without sounding desperate, it’s the longest they’ve gone without since they started having sex and Patrick’s crawling out of his skin about it. It’s the first time in Patrick’s life that he’s actually missed sex, wanted it. First time he’s felt at home against and inside of someone else’s body. It’s how Patrick can say with his hands and his hips what David’s not ready to hear with his ears quite yet. Especially now.

“Mmm.” David’s eyes flash with something searingly hot before he closes them tightly and nods. ”I miss that too.”

As Patrick’s hand moves faster on himself, he feels looser and less focused, and his mind wanders just a little to the thought of David inside of him, instead. Really inside of him; David’s gorgeous cock thick and hard and deep. Watching David’s forearm work between his thighs will always be one of the hottest things Patrick’s ever seen in his life. He wonders if David is thinking about fucking him too.

David watches Patrick’s face hungrily as he touches himself, and Patrick has never felt more wanted. He’s emotionally raw and so ashamed and desperate and part of him loves being painfully open and tender; only David gets to see him like this. Soft and willing to be hurt.

Patrick leans back slightly on his pillow as he feels his orgasm building low in his belly and David’s eyes darken with awareness, wetting his lips in anticipation. Patrick hears a low hum coming from his closed mouth as his body begins to tense, brow furrowing slightly with concentration and fist stuttering around himself. When he comes, he keeps eye contact with David, moaning his name, and his entire body burns with the need to be touched. He moans again as he relaxes through the aftershocks, slowly licking the come off his hand and David looks like he wants to reach through the screen.

“Do you taste good, baby?” he purrs and Patrick blushes, skin tingling with embarrassment. He nods demurely as he pulls his boxer briefs up again. They’re quiet for a moment and Patrick watches David’s gorgeous face, notes the expressions changing in his eyes second to second. He knows he should hang up.

“I’m sorry.” His tongue is heavy and swollen in his mouth and the words come out thick but David still hears them. It’s not time yet but he needs to say it anyway.

“I know.” David nods and clears his throat, running a hand through that perfect dark hair that Patrick misses burying his face in. “Goodnight, Patrick.”

“G’night David,” Patrick mumbles back.

The phone goes dark and Patrick is alone again with his thoughts and his whiskey breath. He still feels electrified from seeing David’s face and leans back, sliding down his pillow to lie slightly flatter, wiggling into the covers. His eyelids are heavy and the rest of his body is loose and relaxed, still basking in the post-orgasm fuzziness. When he opens them again it’s an hour later and he’s missed two texts.

David

9:11 PM Thank you for the wine.
I hope it met your standards. I know they're very high.
Aug 26, 2017 2:04 AM [image: close up of man’s face—nose, mouth and chin only. Lips are slightly parted—it looks like he may be moaning, but unclear. His right thumb is tweaking his right nipple in the bottom left of the photograph.]
I miss you too.




Patrick is still buzzed and the picture pins him to the mattress. It’s unbearably hot and even though he came very recently, he still feels arousal heavy in his spine. He wonders if David masturbated after they hung up. When he looks at the picture again, Patrick decides that he must have, because otherwise that flush is just unfair. After a few minutes of committing the image to memory, he tucks it away into the private album on his phone he’s surreptitiously named zzzzzzzzzzzz, relying on the alphabet to do his work for him because he’s a grandpa apparently when it comes to basic phone privacy. And, until recently, he’s never had images he’s want to keep for his eyes only but still have constant access to, as pathetic as he knows that is.

He closes his eyes again, rubbing his eyelids in the low light of the lamp. The hangover is already looming, starting to zap his will to live, but his body is still desperately trying to display an adequate response to the photo. Looking up at the ceiling, his thoughts ricochet to what he was thinking about when he came and he pulls up his texts with David before he can change his mind.

David

9:11 PM Thank you for the wine.
I hope it met your standards. I know they're very high.
Aug 26, 2017 2:04 AM [image: close up of man’s face—nose, mouth and chin only. Lips are slightly parted—it looks like he may be moaning, but unclear. His right thumb is tweaking his right nipple in the bottom left of the photograph.]
I miss you too.
Aug 26, 2017 3:17 AM I want you inside me

Chapter Text

Three days ago

When Patrick wakes up to the buzz of his phone too few hours later, everything hurts. His mouth tastes like something died in it and he smells, well, he smells like he’s the thing that died. He rolls over with a groan of effort to grab the offending noise-maker, heart jumping when he sees two new messages from David. And above them, a vaguely familiar, extremely personal text he sort of remembers sending.

David

Aug 26, 2017 2:04 AM [image: close up of man’s face—nose, mouth and chin only. Lips are slightly parted—it looks like he may be moaning, but unclear. His right thumb is tweaking his right nipple in the bottom left of the photograph.]
I miss you too.
Aug 26, 2017 3:17 AM I want you inside me 7:43 AM So
How are you this morning?
Well David, I’ve felt better
You put on quite a show last night

Damn. He was sort of avoidantly hoping the whole thing had just been a really incredible, vivid dream. Icy heat drips down the back of his neck, down his chest, and he’s instantly sweaty again. He essentially Facetime booty-called David, as if that was going to make David feel valued. God he’s a dick.

Suddenly, his stomach seizes and he’s gagging over the edge of his bed, cramps radiating through his abdomen. He barely pulls himself up to sitting and then takes a minute to breathe and take stock of his body. His head is pounding, and his eyes are dry and crusty from what he assumes was drunken crying. His breath is actually deadly and he’s 98% of the way to puking at any given moment. He really does need to shower.

It’s going to be a great day.

David

7:43 AM So
How are you this morning?
Well David, I’ve felt better
You put on quite a show last night
8:07 AM I was hoping that wasn’t real
Well. It was.
Not that I’m complaining
I’m so sorry, David
That was so selfish of me not to mention really unfair to you
God I’m really on a roll here
I can cover the store today so you can get some rest
If Stevie and I leave soon, I should get back in plenty of time
No you don’t need to do that
But thank you

 

He rereads what David said.

Not that I’m complaining.

What does that mean? Did he like it—like watching Patrick want him? A jolt of electricity shoots through Patrick’s belly despite its uncertain state.

Patrick is touched and honestly tempted by the offer, and a little relieved that David decided to check in. But no. Patrick can’t ask anything of him yet.

So he texts Alexis.

Alexis

Aug 26, 2017 8:33 AM Hey.
Sorry this is so last minute
But is there any chance you might be able to open the store for me this morning? I’m running late
Um, sure. I’m at the cafe but I can just swing by after I finish my smoothie?
Thank you so much, Alexis
I’ll be there no later than 9:30. Do you know where the lock box is?
Totally. I’m still in my running clothes though, fyi.
No worries. I really appreciate this.

Still housing shame in his belly to neighbor his nausea, Patrick sends the last text and heads to the bathroom at the end of the hall. Once inside, he strips off his booze-sweat-soaked underwear and glances at himself in the mirror. Damn. He looks like he hasn’t slept in a week but he also feels like he’s been asleep his entire life—red eyes, hair stuck up strangely somehow, even at its short length, face pale with dark shadows. He looks leaner than usual, probably because he’s dehydrated, and he stares at himself for a moment because he feels so sideways, seems so unfamiliar. Stepping into the shower, he turns on the water and tries to take his time, lathering thoroughly even with his stomach actively revolting. By the time he gets back to his own room, he’s only like perpetually 92% of the way to puking, which is great progress.

As Patrick gets his clothes out of his drawer, his stomach tightens again and he breaks into another sweat, brought on by pain coupled with nausea. He gets dressed shakily, unable to stand totally upright, wincing as his vaguely dewy skin slips into the clean clothes. He wears an undershirt today; he doesn’t always, but today he needs to because otherwise he’ll sweat right through his button-up. As it is, he’s a contender in the world’s grossest wet t-shirt contest, pits and chest already starting to feel damp with perspiration. While he puts on the braided belt that David lovingly refers to as his “Grandpa Belt,” he has to take a deep breath and bow his head, closing his eyes through another wave of cramps. When he finally straightens himself again, he slips his deodorant in his bag; he’s gonna need it.

Alexis is behind the counter looking artificially peppy as Patrick limps in, but there’s an underlying sadness in her face and shadows under her bright eyes. She doesn’t even attempt to hide her grimace when she sees him.

“Oh my god, woof, Patrick.”

Patrick gives a small frown and nods.

“I know. Thanks.”

“You actually look, um, dead, though?”

“Okay, Alexis. I got it.” Patrick’s tone is a little shorter than it needs to be considering she’s doing him a huge favor but he also doesn’t have the energy to deal with extra shame right now. Alexis scrunches her face indignantly.

“What did you do?”

“Nothing. Just a few drinks at the cafe last night.” He walks past the counter and towards the stock room entrance and sets down his bag in the corner. He can’t make it up the stairs to the office right now; the stairs at Ray’s were enough of a challenge.

“How many? Like, 50?” she chirps after him.

“How was your run?” He ignores her as he rounds the corner of the counter, making his way back onto the store floor unsteadily.

“Um, fine. I only did like 5 miles.”

“Oh, only 5 miles.” He gives her a sarcastic tilt of his head, knees buckling underneath him.

“Well, I generally run like 7. Sometimes 9 or 10 on a really good day. I don’t have that much else to do right now, besides school, so.”

“That’s a lot of running, Alexis.”

“Yeah, um, I’ve just had a lot on my mind lately.” She shakes her head, tucking a stray strand of sweaty hair behind her ear and looking back down at her phone.

“You and me both,” Patrick agrees. His stomach contracts again without warning, and he leans against the counter with a shaking hand. Alexis watches him with her arms crossed, clearly thinking, eyes narrow.

“Um, so I think I should just stay here and help you.”

“You don’t have to do that.”

“Well, you’re going to scare all your business away if I don’t, so I actually absolutely have to.” Alexis closes her eyes and nods as she says ‘absolutely’ to indicate Patrick has no choice in the matter. “You also smell like the bathroom at Tao so I recommend you avoid open flames.”

Alexis stays.

She’s surprisingly helpful. She talks to all the customers, deals with the especially high-energy ones, sends Patrick to the office to take breaks when he’s looking particularly grey. He has to throw up more than once, and she covers for him seamlessly.

From what David’s told Patrick about her past, Alexis understands endurance—what it means to have no choice but to keep going. He knows for a fact she was in higher pressure situations by the time she was 15 than most people see in their entire lives and, somehow, she managed to come out seemingly unscathed, externally no worse for the wear. Though—he imagines her internal landscape of trauma is a different story. Patrick’s only seen a few pictures of Alexis from before the Roses arrived in Schitt’s Creek—all long limbs and sharp cheekbones and guarded eyes. She exuded the unbridled chaos of someone who played it fast and loose with life, constantly on the move because she was worried if she stood still for too long, she might actually feel something.

In Schitt’s Creek, though, it seems like Alexis has been forced to calm, take stock. And maybe that means she’s slowed down enough to give herself time to grow up, to decide what she actually wants, what she deserves, and to make sure she accepts nothing less than that. Schitt’s Creek, after all, has done that for Patrick, leaving no escape, no distractions, effectively cornering him into some serious revelations about himself by simply presenting him with the overwhelming reality of David’s existence.

And now he and Alexis are both learning that there are more important things in life than just surviving it.


A little before noon there’s an odd, muffled knocking sound at the front of the store, and Patrick and Alexis look up to see Twyla, both hands full, trying to wedge her way through the door she’s pushed open with her shoulder. Alexis rushes over to help, her skirt fluttering behind her.

“Oh my god, Twy! Here.”

She grabs the front door Twyla’s struggling with and follows after her as she comes inside, hovering protectively.

“Thanks, Alexis.” Twyla flashes a smile over her shoulder and then turns back to Patrick. “These are for you.” She holds out her hands, one holding a sandwich box and the other, a large hot tea. “From a certain person who seems to be thinking about you a lot.”

Patrick blushes and Twyla purses her lips sweetly as she sets the food down on the counter, eyes warm. He smiles, chest tightening at the gesture and at Twyla being so undeservingly gentle with him.

“Thanks, Twyla.”

“He misses you,” she says in a clear, quiet voice. Patrick looks up at her over the containers on the counter and she smiles softly. He shakes his head and lets out a laugh of disbelief, looking down at his hands.

“I can’t say I understand why. But, obviously, I miss him too. And I’m trying to show him that,” Patrick shrugs his shoulders weakly, “but any advice is welcome.”

Twyla smiles and she tilts her head, ponytail swinging, tucking loose hair behind her ears.

“You need a grand gesture. You know. Like the boombox in Say Anything, or Heath Ledger in the bleachers in 10 Things I Hate About You. Movie stuff.”

Alexis nods in support in the background, eyes wide.

“Oooh. Good one, Twy.” She scrunches her nose. “It’s too bad you already used up your romantic song card, Patrick.”

Patrick furrows his brow indignantly and opens the box in front of him to see a grilled cheese. His throat tightens in appreciation at the thought of David carefully considering the state of his stomach; maybe he really isn’t upset about the call last night.

“Well, I’m not going to limit how many times I let myself sing to David, but yeah, I didn’t plan on serenading my way out of this one.”

Twyla looks thoughtful as she watches Patrick take a bite of the still warm grilled cheese and hum with satisfaction at being able to stomach something for the first time today. Her eyes shine softly.

“Do something for him that makes you feel how he makes you feel.” She tilts her head in thought. “Show him what he gives you.”

Patrick blinks slowly as he chews, Twyla’s words settling into his spine. How David makes him feel.

Safe. Strong. Wanted. Confident.

His eyes wander to the prints from a local photographer that they’re displaying along the back wall of the store, and he’s suddenly struck by an idea that makes his heart race and his palms sweat, his thoughts drifting to a polaroid camera he has tucked away on the top shelf of his closet at Ray’s. It’s a relic from his high school years that he’d hastily packed almost as an afterthought the night he left Rachel, but maybe it’s time to brush the dust off.

“You okay?” Twyla touches his forearm lightly, shaking him out of his reverie, and Patrick jumps.

“Yeah. Yeah. Sorry,” he grins, taking another bite of the grilled cheese. “Thanks for the advice, Twyla. And the, um, sustenance.” He raises the hand holding his sandwich as if he’s giving a toast.

“Anytime.” She squeezes his arm gently and then lets go and turns towards the door. “I gotta get back to the Cafe, but it was good to see your face. Hang in there?”

Patrick shoots her an upside down smile as he sips his tea, slowly feeling sparks of life flooding his body again.

“Thanks. It means a lot.”

And it does.

The fact that so many people are rallying around him and David is, quite frankly, wildly overwhelming. While the few days since the ill-fated barbecue have been emotionally brutal, they’ve also opened his eyes to the fact that he and David really have started to build a life together in Schitt’s Creek, a truth that both thrills and terrifies Patrick. He’s definitely not used to screwing up, especially on an astronomical scale like this, but he’s even less familiar with people being so gentle about it. If learning from your mistakes really is a thing, he intends to prove that he has.


At around 12:30, Alexis tells him she’s going back to the motel at lunch to shower and change, and Patrick asks her if she’d mind running an errand for him while she’s out. Olive branch related.

When she finally shows back up a little after 3, she’s wild-eyed and her arms are laden with a truly insane amount of chocolate truffle samplers from the chocolatier they just signed a contract with in Elm Glen. Patrick grins despite his condition.

“What the hell, Patrick?”

“You’re helping me choose chocolates. For David.”

Alexis leans over to let the boxes dramatically flop out of her arms onto the counter in front of Patrick and then straightens back up.

“Okay, well, Jules said when you called, you told them you wanted two of each sampler and there were like six samplers. So this is like…$200 of chocolate.”

Patrick balks.

“This cost $200?”

“Yeah, well, like, 2-ish.” She checks the receipt and cringes, handing Patrick his card back. “Um, okay, well, $294.40, so I guess kind of closer to $300?”

“How does someone even come up with that many truffle flavors?” Patrick puts a hand on his hip, looking down at all the pretty little boxes. David was obsessed with the packaging that Jules, the chocolatier, was already using when they’d signed with them, so the adjustments made to bring it into the Rose Apothecary aesthetic had thankfully been very minor.

“Jules was, like, so nice though. And cute! Good catch.” Alexis winks.

Jules instantly became a favorite vendor upon their initial meeting—laidback, intelligent, expressive. Very kind, honest eyes. Their energy put even David at ease, and they had an answer to every question, a solution to every potential problem. They were firm but fair in compensation, and Patrick feels a little bad for second-guessing the price just now, even sarcastically. He and David watched Jules make the truffles first-hand when they visited their kitchen and shop, and it was an incredible, meticulous process that Jules made look way too easy. Jules’s truffles remind Patrick of David—gorgeous and deceptively complex, with layers of flavor that could never conceivably come together until they somehow do, all in one perfect bite.

Patrick starts to unbox the first of the identical fruit-based samplers, nodding.

“Just wait til you try their chocolate.” He holds the box out for Alexis to choose one and she purses her lips, quirking her mouth to the side of her face as her hand hovers over them and then selects a spherical truffle with a spattering of dark red across the top of it. When she takes a bite, her eyes roll back and then shut as she chews, holding the other half in her hand, humming happily.

“Tart cherry and dark chocolate, I think. So yummy.” She extends her palm and he hesitantly takes the other half of the truffle and pops it in his mouth, even though he knows he has no business eating sweets when his stomach’s like this.

But it’s really, really good.

As they go along through the samplers, Alexis gets more and more invested in helping pick the perfect set of chocolates for David, catered to his specific palate. Patrick’s heart vibrates between appreciation and amusement as he watches her scrutinize their top candidates using a surprisingly detailed assessment she made while tasting, cross-referencing dominant flavor profiles, chocolate type, and appearance.

“I know you didn’t try the vanilla bourbon,” she says at one point, looking down at the notes on her phone, “but I think David would really like it. He’s always been a fan of, like, warm vanilla.”

Patrick has seen more of Alexis in the past few days than he’s seen of her probably ever in the time before then combined. It’s rare to have her alone and openly expressing the fact that she cares about her brother. David has hinted that their relationship was tense before because Alexis was reckless, always off on some new escapade. But more and more, Patrick doesn’t necessarily think it was recklessness; he thinks she was searching.

Maybe, in a way, Alexis felt not right, too.

Patrick ponders this as he sketches out David a sampler key, bent over the counter. Alexis leans in as well, watching him with a surprisingly gentle expression as he makes his comment on the Ancho Chile Ganache doodle. When she reads what he wrote, she grimaces a smile, scrunching her nose and shaking her head at him, but her eyes shine with a warmth that Patrick will store in part of his heart indefinitely.

“Ew.”

Chapter Text

Three days ago

Patrick sits cross-legged in his underwear and stares at the camera at the end of his bed like it’s going to bite him, music on in the background to try to cover the sound of his thoughts. He suddenly wishes he wasn’t sober, even though thinking about the previous night at the cafe makes his stomach clench. He bites his lip, continuing to eye the camera as he leans back, propped against the headboard, thinking about how David makes him feel.

He imagines David’s crooked grin, his relentless mouth.

Show him what he gives you.

So Patrick takes his boxer briefs off and tosses them in his hamper—one step closer to showing David everything.

He finds that his hands are shaking as he reaches into his bedside table for lube. It’s performative, doing this alone in his room like this, putting on a show for the camera, but it never feels that way when David’s eyes are on him. When they’re together, Patrick’s completely driven by need, pinned in place by David’s gaze. Patrick loves when David tells him what to do, how fast to go. When he’s allowed to come, and where.

God damn.

Patrick reaches down to grab the camera and move it within his immediate reach and then he stretches his legs out towards the foot of the bed, leaning back into his pillows and trying to relax. He closes his eyes and thinks about David.

Patrick has never felt more heard or silently understood in his entire life. He’s learning how to ask for what he wants, but David also has many alternative methods of pulling it out of him, leaving Patrick desperately begging as David eats his ass like he’s a man starved. It’s amazing how David takes the ugly things that Patrick has tucked away and molds them into opportunities. How when they’re in bed, whether coming or cuddling, the things that spill out of Patrick’s mouth are truer and realer than anything he’s ever said out loud before, and, somehow, that doesn’t scare him the way it should.

David’s given him everything he never thought he’d have. Patrick doesn’t want to know what might have happened if he’d come to Schitt’s Creek and the Roses hadn’t been there. God. Would he have just stayed a few months hoping something clicked and then gone back with his tail between his legs? He’d probably be in bed with Rachel right now. Or maybe he would have somehow clumsily slept with Jake and then ended up in Toronto, lonely and on every dating app, eventually scared away by the aggressive amount of dick pics. What if his first time with a man had been a stranger? Maybe it would’ve gone badly, and then he might have lost his nerve altogether.

But no, he gets this; he gets David, with his soft encouragement, gentle coaxing, confident hands. He gets David, who is so deeply invested in his pleasure and self-exploration, who talks Patrick through new things in a way that makes him feel wild with need instead of awkward and clinical. Who makes suggestions and never pushes. David, who’s still shy sometimes when Patrick reaches for his hand in public but will beg Patrick for a third finger in a strangled voice that makes him reflexively grip the base of his cock because he’s so close and he’s not even inside him yet.

Patrick keeps his eyes closed, running a slick hand across his bare chest lightly, every square inch tingling as he remembers what David’s weight feels like on him. When they lie together, they sometimes look at each other and sometimes don’t, but they tell each other little truths, tiny snapshots from before they knew each other. Patrick tells David about college baseball and growing up in a small town, having the same classmates for 12 years. David tells Patrick about the famous musicians he’s spent time with, what it was like meeting the Queen when he was 16, and how he was friends with Jonathan Taylor Thomas for a brief period in the 90s.

Now all Patrick wants to say is more. He wants to talk about the hidden things.

He groans, hand working himself slowly and deliberately as his mind wanders across memories of his hands in other places. He thinks about when they watched each other come in the front seat of the Lincoln, halfway between the store and Heather Warner’s farm a few weeks after they’d started dating. David had been driving when he let his hand crawl up the inseam of Patrick’s jeans in a way that had Patrick shifting his hips restlessly. Without looking away from the road, David casually told him to take his cock out, like he was commenting on the weather, and it had knocked Patrick speechless, the blush spilling into the whites of his eyes as he fumbled with the button at his waist while David turned onto a side street, pulling off under the cover of some trees. He parked there and watched Patrick touch himself with the hungriest eyes and told Patrick he was so good yes like that go slow go slow yes and that he wanted to take him apart. He told Patrick he wanted to spend hours between his thighs and that he was so good so good you’re beautiful how are you fucking real come for me honey come on just like that. When Patrick finished on his stomach with a less than attractive groan, shirt tugged haphazardly up and out of the way, he was briefly embarrassed but it all melted in the heat of David’s stare as David ran his hand through the mess and then leaned back and brought himself to orgasm in front of a blissed-out Patrick, using Patrick’s come as lube.

They were late to Heather’s.

Patrick looks down at his hand on his cock as he feels the pressure in his belly building, and his eyes flicker to the camera. He reaches awkwardly with his left hand to turn it on, right still stroking himself, stomach tensing with the mounting pleasure unfurling at the base of his spine. Holding it over his body with his left hand in his best approximation of proper framing, he presses the trigger. The flash is a little distracting, but he wants David to see this. He has to set the camera down to take out the picture and turn it over since his right hand is...occupied, and he laughs at himself because it’s all so absurd but he’s still somehow so close to coming because he finds this intensely hot. Showing David how much Patrick wants him, needs him when he’s not around. Raising the camera again, he presses the shutter a few more times. Just in case. It’s actually a thrill when the flash goes off and he’s a little embarrassed about how into this he is as he carefully stacks the film before turning his attention back to memories of being deep between David’s thighs.

His orgasm catches him by surprise and he has to bite his bottom lip to muffle the sound that rushes up from deep in his diaphragm. The music’s still on, but it’s nowhere near loud enough, the dulcet tones of Norah Jones decidedly not overtaking the waves of pleasure coursing through him. In the bliss of the moment he picks up the camera again, taking another haphazard photo of his messy hand and cock and setting it down by his hip to pull the film out. He’s struck by the urge to bring his hand to his mouth, his thumb rubbing over his bottom lip, tongue peeking out to taste himself. He takes another picture of himself licking the cum off his fingers, blushing but still impossibly turned on. Before David, Patrick remembers needing space after sex, but now, when he comes, all he wants is to be even closer, deeper. He always needs more.

Laying the camera down carefully, he reaches over his body with his clean hand for the drawer of the nightstand and shakily grabs a wipe to clean himself up. Afterwards, he rolls over, back towards the camera and to the film on the bed that he left processing. Taking a deep breath, he stacks the photos together and then flips them upright, heartbeat rocketing through his body. As he looks them over, something deep in his stomach purrs with delight.

They’re hot. So hot.

The thought of David seeing these sends a rush of adrenaline down his spine as he carefully moves them to his nightstand. He wants to take one more picture, but it’s a little ambitious. Feeling slightly ridiculous, he rolls his desk chair around to the foot of the bed and raises it so the seat is as high as it can go and then goes closet-fishing for a few old textbooks to stack on top of it. Carefully, he sets the camera there and bends over behind it, still naked, trying to look through the viewfinder over the arm of the chair to eyeball where he’d need to be. He thinks he remembers how to set the timer, scrambling awkwardly onto the mattress as the light starts to blink. He tries to lay casually on his stomach, propped up on his forearms and looking over his shoulder at the lens, and notices as he slides onto his belly that his cock is sensitive but somehow still interested in what’s happening. The lights blink faster and faster and he hopes his face says what he wants it to when the flash goes off.

He’s open. Vulnerable.

Ready.

Later, after he’s showered and ready for bed, he brings the polaroids over to his desk and turns on the lamp there, pulling the chair back from its temporary position as a tripod and settling in. He grabs a small, blank, elastic-banded notebook and a pen from the top drawer; there are a few stories to tell and, right now, writing them feels the safest. So he can make sure he says what he needs to without having to also focus on not melting in David’s presence.

If he’s being honest, sometimes it still gets hard to breathe when they’re together, much less think. It’s purely a survival instinct for Patrick to be quiet and listen to the blood rushing in his ears instead of trying to string together words in a way that has meaning. Patrick writes until a little after 1 in the morning and feels strangely electrified when he tucks the best of the photos in the cover and closes the book, wrapping the band around it, almost like he just whispered those words into David’s skin, into his bloodstream, circulating his body and clinging to the chambers of his heart. It’s the most relieving thing—the certainty. Somehow, with David, he’s always so sure. And Patrick stays sure as shuts off the desk lamp and fumbles over to his bed, where he’d just posed ass-up like a bashful pool boy asking to be devastated. Sure as his thoughts drift off into memories of how David feels, and his brain quiets at the soft pride in his stomach. Surer about David—and himself—than he’s ever been.


Two days ago

David

Aug 26, 2017 1:03 PM Thank you for the tea. And the grilled cheese.
I hope it helped
It did.
Aug 27, 2017 7:41 AM Hi. Thank you for the chocolates; I did like the ancho chile one. Are you feeling better?
You’re welcome. And yes. Much.
Thank you, David.
Good.
You’re up early.
Haven’t been sleeping well.
I’m sorry.
It’s fine. Lots of time to organize my knits.
Have fun

Patrick woke up to an early alarm so he can get to the donut shop in Elmdale and bring breakfast to David (and Stevie and the rest of the Roses, by association) before he has to open the store. He’s tired from being up all night writing and his body is reluctant to cooperate, but he’s able to get a shower and grab a thermos of coffee before hopping in his car and making the trek. Luckily, the shop still has plenty of crullers, which are David’s favorite; Patrick’s sure to get those and more than a few others—because he’s honestly starving and he’s definitely eating one on the way back to Schitt’s Creek. He also picks up a coffee for David, his standard macchiato, because Patrick knows that David being up this early means he’s going to need caffeine. When he gets back to the car, he puts the box of donuts on the passenger seat and sets the small black book of confessions on top of it. It’s a complicated offering—sex, fried dough, and raw truths—but it might be the perfect balance of sharp and sweet for David.

When he pulls up to the motel, his mouth is dry. He parks far away from room 7 because his heart is already thudding painfully against the wall of his chest knowing David is so close—David, still probably a bit sleepy and soft, just a few meters away. Picking up the box and book off the passenger seat and getting out of the car, he walks into the office to find a tired Stevie behind the desk. Of the two options, that’s probably for the best: he really hadn’t wanted to chance giving the book to Mr. Rose. Of course, there’s also a much higher probability that Stevie will peek. The thought tingles smartly at the base of his spine, but he tucks it away for later. (Why is it kind of hot?)

“Um. Hi. Can I....help you?” Stevie says after a long moment, tossing her head in greeting, looking both confused and bemused. Patrick has just been standing in the doorway staring at her, completely lost in thought. It’s the first time he’s seen her since the barbecue and he’s relieved to note she seems no more hostile than usual. He clears his throat and shakes his own head and her eyebrows raise expectantly.

“Uh. Sorry. Hi. I brought these for David. And you guys. Can you, um, drop this off in his room?”

Stevie nods, looking wary as Patrick makes his way over to her, setting the box and book on the counter and then handing her the coffee.

“Uh.” Patrick wets his lips nervously, straining to look relaxed, nonchalant. He can feel himself starting to sweat and his eyes dart to the notebook that holds the polaroids and a decent chunk of Patrick’s heart. “The book is private. For, um. For David. If you could get that to him directly.”

His gaze darts between Stevie and the book and Stevie stares at him, nodding slowly again, eyes wide like he might spontaneously combust at any moment. Honestly, he might.

“Sure, Patrick.” Her voice is cautious and Patrick knows he probably looks insane but he can’t help it; this is all new territory. Her face says she’s enjoying this entirely too much. “Are you okay? You seem...weird.”

“Yeah—” Patrick’s voice comes out strangely hoarse and broken. He tries again. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

“Mm. Convincing.” She nods, eyes wide, and takes a sip of the coffee Patrick got for David, looking down at the magazine she’d been mindlessly flipping through when Patrick came in. “You definitely don’t seem like you’re trying to cover up a murder. Or like you’re an alien in a Patrick suit.”

Patrick laughs weakly.

“Okay I gotta go,” he manages to choke out awkwardly as he stumbles towards the door. “Store. Thanks, Stevie.”

“Tell your mothership we’re full up on weirdos down here. Don’t need any more,” Stevie fires back, not looking up from the magazine, and taking another sip of coffee as he steps outside.

Patrick has a feeling the drink probably won’t make it to David, but that’s okay. As long as the rest of it does. He shakes his hands out as he walks back to his car, trying to release the weird anxiety and tension coursing through his veins, fingertips tingling. Folding himself into the front seat of his car, he buckles his seatbelt, eyeing the door to Room 7 with a stomach like a lead balloon. He pulls out of the motel and watches it shrink in the rear view mirror.

All that’s left is to wait.

Once he’s at the store, the day drags by and he can’t help compulsively checking his phone every 5 minutes, even though it hasn’t gone off once besides the notification of a potential rain storm. Perfect. There’s an incessant, low buzz of anxiety vibrating in the back of his skull and it makes him feel insane, like his brain is itching and there’s no way for him to scratch it. He can’t stay still, pacing back and forth anxiously on the floor of the store, counting and recounting stock in the back room, picking at the cuticle of his thumb until it starts to bleed. He curses to himself, sucking his fingertip into his mouth.

What if he read the situation wrong and David’s offended? What if he saw the pictures and decided to not even read what Patrick wrote? Patrick’s stomach drops unsettlingly, mouth tasting suddenly sharp and metallic. His phone buzzes in his pocket and he almost drops it in his mad scramble to check the notification, but it’s only Stevie.

Stevie

Aug 27, 2017 3:12 PM Hey E.T. just checking in
Say hi to the Pod People for me
But really. How are you?


After the initial disappointment that it’s not David, Patrick realizes he’s grateful and, frankly, relieved, to hear from Stevie. Their friendship had just started to evolve into something independent from David when this all happened, and he was genuinely worried she might withdraw. Take sides. Which would be understandable—she was David’s something first, after all. But he’s glad he’s not the only one who thinks that they have something too.

Stevie

Aug 27, 2017 3:12 PM Hey E.T. just checking in
Say hi to the Pod People for me
But really. How are you feeling?
What is “feeling”?
I’m okay.
Just wishing he’d talk to me.
He’s working on it.


Patrick pulls his lips between his teeth when he reads her response; what does that even mean? It’s too ambiguous—what Patrick really wants is to follow up with a million questions, to drag Stevie into the store and corner her and ask her to recount everything David’s said, word for word, in the past five days. He wants answers. Instead he locks his phone again and slides it into his pocket, taking a deep breath and spreading his palms flat on the counter. He’s spiraling. It probably doesn’t help that he skipped lunch since he didn’t have anyone to cover for him; he didn’t want to ask Alexis again since she spent literally all of yesterday taking care of him without so much as a hair flip of irritation.

Does he give up? Should he wave the white flag?

What else can he do? How else can he show David that he sees him, appreciates him because of exactly the man he is, not in spite of it? Patrick is trying so hard to know him. Maybe there’s a part of David he hasn’t respected, soothed, spoken to yet. A final way to reach him.

David loves to feel heard. Acknowledged. Appreciated. While he carefully curates defiant “otherness” to the general population of Schitt’s Creek, Patrick knows he’s quietly self-conscious about the way he’s perceived, especially in regards to his passions that many others openly deem frivolous. Patrick wants to reassure David that his passion, whatever it’s for, is wildly attractive. Something precious. And that if David cares about something, Patrick can learn to care about it too.

Oh god. He’s actually considering picking out clothing for David. Because apparently he hasn’t made enough of a fool out of himself already. He pulls out his phone again, panicked.

Alexis

Aug 27, 2017 3:27 PM Hey. Who is David’s favorite sweater guy?
Designer? Um. He has a lot. Why?
I wanted to get him something that I know he’d be excited about so he knows I care about things that are important to him.
1. Ew.
2. Those sweaters are all worth more than your car.
3. Think way smaller. Like. Accessory, small.

1. Rude
2. See 1
3. Jewelry?

Mm. Depends. What are you thinking?


Patrick ponders David’s accessories and swallows, mouth dry as his mind wanders to memories of David wearing his silver chain and nothing else.

Alexis

Aug 27, 2017 3:27 PM Hey. Who is David’s favorite sweater guy?
Designer? Um. He has a lot. Why?
I wanted to get him something that I know he’d be excited about so he knows I care about things that are important to him.
1. Ew.
2. Those sweaters are all worth more than your car.
3. Think way smaller. Like. Accessory, small.

1. Rude
2. See 1
3. Jewelry?

Mm. Depends. What are you thinking?
A bracelet, maybe? To match the chain he always wears.
Ooo. Patrick. I love it.
That chain is super important to him. I totally didn’t tell you that though.
What type of chain is it? For my search.
It’s a Cuban link, I think!
Thank you, Alexis.
Proud of you ✨💕


Patrick smiles to himself as he pulls up Alice Kee’s contact on his phone. She’s one of their first vendors—David actually worked out a contract with her before Patrick came along, and she’d then been surprisingly and generously willing to renegotiate based on the new policies Patrick had put in place for contract terms. “We have to have each other’s backs,” she’d said. And she had, so Patrick’s happy to finally be able to give her some business in return; believe it or not, he hasn’t had a real need for jewelry in his personal wardrobe. She picks up on the third ring.

“This is Alice.”

“Hi Alice, it’s Patrick. From Rose Apothecary.”

“Yeah! Patrick! Hi! Great to hear from you. How are things?”

“Hi! Uh, I’m calling because I am in kind of a...time-sensitive situation and need to buy a gift. Tonight. And was hoping I might be able to shop with you at your studio?”

“Ooh. If I say yes, will you share the details?”

“Depends. Can I bring beer?”


Alice meets Patrick at her studio at 7:30 and lets them both inside. She’d insisted on getting them Thai take out since he’d offered to bring the beer, and that’s how they wind up sitting on the carpeted floor of the tiny, unused office next to her studio with a six-pack and several plastic containers between them, Patrick sharing the general outline of his indiscretion while sparing her the more sordid details. Alice listens carefully, chopsticks deep in the basil chicken and when Patrick finishes, she shakes her head at him over his pad kee mao, an empathetic smile gracing the corners of her mouth.

“So you’re saying this is an, ‘I appreciate you, regardless’ gift, and not a ‘please take me back, I’m lost without you’ gift?’ Patrick notes a hint of a challenge in her dark eyes. He clears his throat and rubs the back of his neck, unsure.

“I mean. It’s a little of both?”

She nods, eyes still fixed on him as she chews thoughtfully.

“I think that’s fair. But!” A grin spreads at the corner of her mouth and Patrick can’t help but blush and smile back. “I also think you’re kidding yourself if you really think you and David could ever work together platonically. I’ve seen you look at him; you’re like the embodiment of the damn heart-eyes emoji.”

Patrick bashfully polishes off the rest of his noodles, ears burning as his eyes dart to Alice’s face and then back down to his chopsticks.

“Yeah, well,” he mumbles gruffly, feeling a little ridiculous and juvenile.

“I’m just observing that you have very loud eyes.” She smiles again and starts to gather her trash. “It’s not a bad thing. Especially since you’re saying you don’t want to keep anything from him anymore.”

As Patrick helps Alice clear the floor of their makeshift picnic, he wonders if his face has always betrayed him like this, or if it’s just the way he looks at David. No one back home ever told him he was easy to read, but maybe, he realizes with a pang of guilt, that’s because he’d never felt anything strong enough to show it.

“If he can’t tell how smitten you are by now, he’s blind.” She winks as she stands and jerks her head towards the door. “Now. Let’s make a bracelet?”

Alice’s actual studio is small but impressive. Patrick doesn’t know much about jewelry, but she definitely seems like she knows what she’s doing. Some of the tools he sees on her workbench look more suited to blacksmithing than jewelry making, but, again, Patrick doesn’t know much about jewelry. He follows her to a case holding pieces made of a thicker, more substantial silver and she unlocks it, pulling out a long chain and gathering it neatly in her palm before pressing it into Patrick’s hand. It’s cool and surprisingly heavy as he closes his fingers around it, absentmindedly rolling the silver in his fist. He loves its weight against his skin.

“So this is my Cuban link design. I can shorten it to whatever length you want.”

Patrick thinks about David’s wrist, about holding it, about how it feels in Patrick’s hand—elegant but unbreakable, everything he never knew he wanted. He thinks about grabbing David, draping his body over him, pressing him down.

“Um. I guess you could measure me. We’re similar enough.”

Patrick holds out his arm and Alice nods, carefully wrapping the chain around the thickest part of his wrist.

“Is just here okay?” She points to where the chain overlaps itself and Patrick nods; his wrists are just a tad thicker than David’s so it should be more than enough.

“Yeah that’s perfect, Alice—thanks.”

She beams at him as she marks the link and then brings it to her workbench, removing the decided length from the rest of the chain and affixing the closure clasps at both ends. Patrick watches, amazed.

“I can’t believe how fast you did that.”

“I have lots of practice.” She winks at him as she tests the strength of the connection between the clasp and the rest of the bracelet. Giving a nod of approval, she reaches down into a drawer by her workbench and pulls out a black box, which she opens, lifting a layer of silky fabric and nestling the bracelet underneath. Holding it out to Patrick for approval, she tilts his head at him. “Yeah?”

“It’s perfect.” Patrick nods, swallowing hard as he takes it from her; he’s suddenly a little choked up thinking about David putting the bracelet on. “He’ll love it.”

Chapter Text

Today

Ray Butani

Aug 29, 2017 7:56 PM Ray, please tell me you can stay with Robin tonight.
I’ll have to check with them, Patrick. Is everything okay?
Yes. It’s just that
Well.
David and I made up
I’m so happy for you both! Let me call Robin.
Aug 29, 2017 8:13 PM The house is all yours, Patrick. Robin wanted to pass along their congratulations, also!
I’ll be gone in fifteen minutes. Lights on or off?!
On is fine, Ray
And thank you. This is such a huge favor.


Patrick tries really hard not to imagine Ray hanging a banner that reads “Congrats on the Sex!” in the foyer. They give Ray 25 minutes, just to be safe.

And he takes David home.

In the car, David puts a hand on his thigh and squeezes and Patrick thinks about the night they went to Stevie’s, how nervous he was. And how lucky he was about to be—how lucky he still is. He’s nervous again. When they pull up at the house, Patrick has to take a deep breath after he turns the car off before he pulls the key out of the ignition. He looks over at David, who’s watching him intently.

“Hey.” David squeezes his thigh again. “You okay? You’re quiet.”

Patrick wets his lips and gives a soft smile.

“Yeah. Yeah. I just—I’m happy.” He leans in and kisses David, open-mouthed, letting himself linger. His hand shakes as he brings it to David’s face and when they break apart, he laughs at himself. “Sorry. Also might be, uh, a little nervous.”

David softens, his dark eyes still so full of need but simultaneously warm.

“Hey. We don’t have to do anything you’re not ready for.” His voice is low and soothing, elegant thumb stroking Patrick’s thigh where he holds it. “But I want to take care of you. Is that okay?”

Patrick blushes, suddenly very hot, pressure building behind his eyes, and nods.

“Yes, David.”

Patrick leads David into the house and up the stairs by the hand, heart threatening to leap out of his mouth if he opens it. When they get into Patrick’s room, David sets his bag down and carefully closes the door behind them and they’re alone. Patrick switches on the nightstand lamp and starts to busy himself with tidying up his desk to keep from suffocating in this moment he had worried might never happen again.

“Patrick.” David’s voice is soft. “Hey. Stop for a minute.”

Patrick bites his trembling lip, turning towards David and looking down, irritated that he’s trying to blink away tears. He’s annoyed with himself for crying, annoyed that he’s the one getting emotional when he’s the one who screwed up.

“Hey. C’mere.”

And David is surging into his space, touching him, holding him. He drops soft, torturously slow kisses to Patrick’s temple, the inner corner of his eye, his cheek, the side of his mouth before his lips are hot and open against Patrick’s, arms wrapped over his shoulders and Patrick lets himself be engulfed. They kiss slowly, Patrick’s hands shaking as they press into David’s back, still half convinced this is a dream. That he can’t possibly be getting another chance to be this happy. David’s mouth starts to wander again, tracing the line of Patrick’s jaw wetly, nuzzling underneath his ear, lazing down his throat to where his collar starts, and then David’s hands are there, slowly working the buttons as he kisses Patrick on the mouth again, sliding the shirt farther down his shoulders, fingertips grazing every new inch of skin like he’s trying to relearn Patrick’s body. It’s only been a week but it’s more than enough for Patrick to quietly groan at the way David is touching him, soft pads of fingers grazing over nipples he’d never known were this sensitive. When the last button is undone, the shirt falls to the floor and David drops his head to mouth at the join between Patrick’s neck and shoulder and Patrick whines, a hand firmly making its way up to tangle into David’s dark hair.

And then David pulls off and straightens, stepping just slightly back and Patrick almost protests.

“Before I get, um,” David clears his throat, “carried away, I’m going to get things ready for us, okay?” He puts both his hands on Patrick’s shoulders and kisses him. “You get comfortable while I do that and then I’ll join you.”

Patrick nods dumbly, arousal fogging every system at once; he’s overloaded. David leans in for another kiss before patting his shoulders and then turning towards his bag, which he’d set by Patrick’s closet. Patrick toes off his shoes haphazardly and begins fumbling with his belt and then the button of his jeans as he walks to the bed and sits down.

“Is it okay if I grab a towel and fresh washcloth from the bathroom?” David asks, sounding almost timid. Patrick nods in response, mouth dry.

“Yeah. Yeah. Of course,” he manages to choke out, but David is still watching him like he might suddenly shatter, and instead of leaving the room, he walks over to the bed and perches next to Patrick.

“Or. I can help you get comfortable first,” he says, quirking one expressive eyebrow in a way that makes Patrick’s stomach flip. Patrick nods again, eyes wide and fixed on David’s perfect face and then David’s hands are gently pushing Patrick back and down onto the mattress, following after him, their torsos pressed together as David crawls up between Patrick’s thighs. David shifts his weight onto one elbow, holding himself above Patrick, one hand carding through his short hair gently. After giving Patrick a merciful second to adjust to the intoxicating weight pressing down on him, their eyes meet.

“So, I saw a picture of you with longer hair this week. In your, um.” David grimaces sheepishly. “In your engagement announcement.”

Patrick’s heart, which is already thumping frantically against his ribcage, skips several beats.

“I have to say—I find your curls very attractive. So if you ever wanted to grow them out again, I would absolutely not be opposed. And obviously, I’d have product recommendations.”

Patrick smiles bashfully.

“Thank you, David. I’ll keep that in mind.”

David leans in to press a soft, chaste kiss to Patrick’s mouth and Patrick just barely tamps down the whimper that threatens to escape him. He can’t get enough of this moment, enough of David’s weight, his solidness. He’s right there. They breathe together for a long second.

“I, um, actually cut my hair short right after I left home. After I broke it off with Rachel.” Patrick watches David’s face closely for signs of hurt at the mention of Rachel’s name but doesn’t catch any. “It just felt like...starting over.”

“I understand the impulse,” David nods, chewing on the inside corner of his lip. “I once shaved half my head in high school after the Spice Girls split up.”

“That must have been really hard on you, David.” Patrick tries to smother his smile in an attempt to convey the perceived gravity of the situation. “I know Ginger was your favorite.”

“It was a rough couple of months, especially when I had to grow it back out,” David agrees as he smiles down at him, hand moving to the side of his face, thumb stroking his cheek softly. “But I made it through. And so did you.”

And just like that, David makes everything okay.

Patrick feels the tension slowly melting off him as David leans down to press another kiss to his lips before gingerly pushing himself up to a seated position between his legs. He wiggles his eyebrows exaggeratedly as he unzips Patrick’s fly and then taps at Patricks hips and Patrick lifts obediently so David can slide his jeans down and off in a familiar gesture that still gives him goosebumps. David stands to fold the discarded denim and sets them on the seat of Patrick’s desk chair—a habit he’s fallen into when he stays over that feels achingly domestic; Patrick never thought the sight of folded Levi’s could choke him up but here they are.

“I’m gonna go get that towel now.” David smiles down at him. “And then you can help make me comfortable.”


After the towel has been laid out and the dampened washcloth, a glass of water, and lube are carefully placed on the nightstand by David’s side of the bed (“It’s incorrect to leave the room right after sex if it can be avoided”), Patrick eagerly gets to work on David’s clothes, finally ridding him of the wildly impractical leather sweater and fumbling enthusiastically with his skirted pants.

“How do these fuckin’ things work?” he mutters to himself grumpily as David bats his hands away, scooting slightly back.

“What a mouth you have,” David smirks, eyes flickering, sending a thrill of heat down Patrick’s spine as David unfastens them himself and, kneeling on the mattress, begins to slide them down, revealing his boxer briefs underneath.

“You’re killing me,” Patrick breathes, leaning back onto the pillows and drinking David in—shirtless and devastating. He palms himself softly over his own boxer briefs as David stands to strip his pants the rest of the way off and then crawls back onto the bed, resting between Patrick’s thighs, hard in the crease of Patrick’s hip.

“I missed this,” David murmurs as he slowly, so slowly—too slowly—rolls his hips down against Patrick’s body, watching Patrick fall apart with the same look in his eyes he’d had when he pinned him up against the wall in the stockroom. Patrick’s hands slip from David’s back to his ass, pulling him down harder, and he gasps as their cocks slot together, hips jumping reflexively, wanting more, more, always more.

“God, David. You feel so damn good,” Patrick murmurs, eyes glossy with need as his hips continue to chase the friction desperately. David works a hand between their bodies and down, down to the waistband of Patrick’s boxer briefs and underneath. Patrick almost wants to cry when David’s fingers finally wrap around him, firm but gentle. David pulls his own body back slightly to watch Patrick’s face as he strokes him slowly, almost absentmindedly.

“David,” Patrick’s voice is deep and rough with need, “get me ready for you. Please.”

David’s freezes, looking aggressively flushed, hand stilling on Patrick as he stares. He purses his lips into a smile and releases Patrick’s cock, pushing himself back up again to sit on his heels and leaning over to the nightstand to grab the lube, setting it between his thighs. He slowly pulls Patrick’s briefs down and Patrick can feel himself blush as David’s eyes rake over his newly exposed skin in the most arresting way.

“Pull your knees up for me, baby,” David instructs gently, dark eyes shining as he taps on Patrick’s ankles where they’re currently bracketing David’s hips. Patrick obliges, bending his legs so that his feet are flat on the mattress and tucked near his ass, spread wider than his hips, revealing everything. He can feel his face burning as David sits back and looks, the silence in the room suffocating. After a long moment, Patrick shifts his hips restlessly.

David…

“Fuck. Do you have any idea how good you look?” David’s eyes are hungry in a way Patrick’s never seen before, gaze fixed firmly between Patrick’s legs, and it has every inch of him electric. All he wants is to give David more. To give him everything. He slides his hands up the backs of his thighs, hooking under his knees as he pulls them up and in towards his body, spreading himself open even more, watching in delight as David’s eyes widen.

“God damn,” David breathes, rubbing himself slowly over his briefs. “Honey, you’re beautiful.”

Unexpected wet heat pricks at the corners of Patrick’s eyes and he wills himself to keep them dry, absentmindedly stroking up and down the back of his thighs, gaze fixed on David’s face. David picks up the lube and uncaps it, coating his right hand generously before setting the bottle next to Patrick’s hip and crawling closer, wrapping his left arm underneath and around Patrick’s right thigh, hand coming to rest on Patrick’s stomach, gently holding him down. He rests his head against the inside of Patrick’s right knee and Patrick adjusts the pillow under his head, fluffing it to get a better angle on the sight of David between his legs.

He’s already breathing embarrassingly hard and when David rolls the bent knuckle of his slick middle finger across the spot just behind Patrick’s balls, he lets out a low, throaty moan, throwing his head back. David smiles softly, straightening his finger while still applying the perfect amount of pressure, tracing down and over Patrick’s hole. Goosebumps erupt across Patrick’s skin as David’s thumb takes the place of his middle finger, massaging the tender area. His fingertip dips in and out of Patrick in a way that has his hips jumping reflexively and after a long moment of teasing, he can’t take it anymore.

“David, please.

David smiles up at him and Patrick’s cock twitches against his stomach in response; he’s not used to feeling this helpless.

“Please, what?”

And then David’s thumb is pushing slowly but firmly into Patrick and he groans and covers David’s hand on his stomach with his own, lacing their fingers together.

“You’re such a god damned tease,” Patrick grits out as David starts to slowly draw his thumb back and forth, teasing the inside of the tight ring of muscle in a way that makes Patrick’s jaw clench. David uses the soft pad of his thumb to stretch him gently, touch almost soothing, and the hand that’s not covering David’s on Patrick’s stomach comes up to the side of David’s face, Patrick’s thumb stroking his cheek, running over a dark brow gently. When Patrick starts to squeeze David’s hand with the building sensation, David withdraws his thumb to a whine of protest before he replaces it with his middle finger, ring finger sliding in alongside and the sound that comes out of Patrick is something he doesn’t recognize as his voice at all.

He can barely catch his breath as David establishes a pace, gaze mostly fixed on where he’s working Patrick open but occasionally sneaking peeks of Patrick’s face as he gives himself over. It’s wildly hot to see David’s forearm flex with effort, to feel his fingers buried to the hilt, the rest of his hand pressing into the soft flesh of Patrick’s ass with every thrust. David’s rhythm is truly preparatory—slow and firm—and sometimes when his fingertips are barely catching Patrick’s rim, he scissors them slightly to deepen the stretch and Patrick hisses, hips twitching because it’s so mind-numbingly good. If he was more aware and less focused on the man between his thighs, he’d be embarrassed about how much of a mess he’s making, so hard and desperate and leaking all over his stomach. David’s eyes flicker as he observes the scene, still slowly fucking into Patrick with his fingers.

“God. Look how wet you are,” David murmurs, pressing an open mouthed kiss to the inside of Patrick’s right thigh. “You’re so fucking hot.”

Patrick moves the hand from David’s cheek to cover his eyes bashfully, a moan bubbling up from deep in his diaphragm when David twists his wrist as he re enters him. His cheeks are burning.

“You can give me another,” he almost begs, voice hoarse with need, and David obliges, index and ring finger nestled together, middle finger tucked above them, and Patrick feels like he might die for the 100th time in the last hour. David continues working him diligently but it’s so much and Patrick’s squirming, shifting his hips restlessly; it all just makes him need more. He didn’t realize how much he wanted David inside him, but right now it’s all he can think about. He’s a man consumed.

“I’m ready,” he says breathlessly, obscenely wet and open under David’s careful ministrations, “I’m ready, David. Please.”

David’s hand stills between Patrick’s legs and their eyes meet and Patrick will never forget the look on David’s face—like he’s just seeing Patrick for the first time.

“Honey, I—” David starts.

“You’re not going to break me.”

The words stretch between them in the silence of the room and Patrick’s breath hitches in his throat, smothered by need. Maybe he wouldn’t mind being broken.

Then David is pulling his arm from between Patrick’s legs, wiping his hand on the towel and crawling up Patrick’s body, pressing kisses to every available inch of skin, not leaving him any space, any room to breathe. The goosebumps return as David lies flush on top of Patrick again and kisses him slowly, and Patrick swears he can feel David’s heartbeat in his stomach. Or maybe it’s his; it’s hard to tell where he ends and David begins.

When they break apart, David pushes up between Patrick’s thighs and positions himself carefully, hooking a hand underneath Patrick’s knee and Patrick’s mouth falls open as he feels the blunt head of David’s cock pressing into him, thick and hard and hot. Patrick notes with a tightness in his chest that David’s hands are shaking.

“David,” Patrick whispers, “David.”

His mouth is slack and David’s face fades in and out of focus above him. He wants to beg; his entire body is pulsing with electricity, splitting completely in half. It’s so much; it’s too much. His thighs are shaking.

“Breathe, baby.” David’s eyes are worriedly fixed on him and they’re so soft—the darkest, warmest pools. Patrick tries to focus there even though his world is on fire. “Breathe.”

He obeys, inhaling shallowly, clinging to the soothing register of David’s voice. He feels so full; god, he’s so full. So full of David. The air catches in his throat just like that thought in the back of his head and he whimpers, too overwhelmed to be self-conscious.

“Are you okay?” David exhales the question as he gently and carefully slides deeper into Patrick, who manages a nod. It’s all way too much but also nowhere near enough, and he’s oscillating wildly between the two feelings.

If David stops now, Patrick’s pretty sure he’ll die.

The tender coaching; the constant, unrelenting pressure; the sharp burn; how raw and open he is—it’s so much. His chest feels like it might explode. David has his left hand underneath Patrick’s right knee and he’s hiking it impossibly higher, up and away from his center, where David sinks into him, and the stretch is brutal and mind-numbingly good and everything he needed to sand down the sharp angles of the past week. To quiet his guilt and shame.

“Yes, honey. God,” David hisses as Patrick’s body blossoms for him, one hand firmly next to Patrick’s head on the mattress for support. “You’re perfect. You’re perfect.”

Patrick lets out a high, breathy moan when his leaking cock grazes the warm skin, soft hair just below David’s belly button and he tenses involuntarily with the unanticipated stimulation. He doesn’t recognize his own voice, the way the noises keep falling over his lips so freely, but he’s beyond caring how desperate he sounds. David bends his neck to press a sloppy, panted kiss to the side of Patrick’s open mouth and then slyly leans forward so that Patrick’s cock is trapped between them, adding another layer of sensation to Patrick’s already overloaded nervous system. His hips give a futile, involuntary jerk that is smothered by David’s weight as he sinks still deeper into Patrick’s heat. Patrick drops a shaking hand across his face, the other winding tightly into David’s dark, thick hair—his millionth attempt to ground himself in the last five seconds.

“Stay with me.”

David’s voice brings him back into his body and Patrick uncovers his eyes and there he is. The best fucking thing that’s ever happened.

And suddenly the pressure, the heat, the bright shock is too much too much too much too deep and everything falls away and there’s no air in his lungs and he can’t breathe he can’t think he can’t

Long, elegant fingers slide between his, push his hand off his forehead, pin it to the bed and David buries his face into Patrick’s neck. Their bodies are flush now and Patrick has never felt sharp, bright bliss like this. It’s loud and it crashes into the base of his spine bluntly, relentlessly, and he can’t escape it, would never want to.

It’s quiet in his room, just the echoes of their breathing, every inch of Patrick electric to the touch. Part of him feels everything and part of him is numb with the knowledge that David is inside him.

“I missed you,” David murmurs, lifting his head and kissing Patrick slowly, softly. Patrick weakly kisses him back.

“You have no idea.”

Before David can argue, Patrick gives a tiny experimental shift of his hips and god damn does it ache in a way that shoots frenetic victory burning deep into his belly. The pull is something he’ll have to get used to; fingers are no match to thick, perfect David. Patrick already knew he was well-endowed, but hadn’t really considered the full implications of that until now.

And he’s usually such a planner.

“Fuck, Patrick. Wait,” David chokes out, reaching. “More lube.”

He uncaps it skillfully with one hand, pouring the slick low on Patrick’s belly and down and down. David hums as he massages where they meet soothingly, teasing at Patrick’s rim stretched around him with the soft pad of his thumb and Patrick groans at the stimulation, a ring of electricity shooting sparks up his spine.

“Still okay, baby?”

There’s another knee-weakening reverberation of desire that echoes in David’s tender touch and he says yes David yes. god yes. yes. and David starts to move against him, hips gentle and halting, sensitive to Patrick’s fresh vulnerability, the newness rubbed raw between his legs. Patrick’s pleasure builds in sharp and unpredictable waves punctuated by brief, aching moments of overstimulation that draw broken moans from deep in his gut. He doesn’t touch himself, surrendering to David in every possible way.

David’s thrusts become longer and steadier, falling into a careful rhythm, but they’re still so slow and intentional that Patrick’s entire body prickles with white heat, the slide agonizing and sore and vibrant. He loves the solidness of David above him, holding him down, pouring into him. With each roll of David’s hips, Patrick feels more confident of how much he can take, how much he wants to take.

The stretch is so deeply, sinfully good as David rocks against him and Patrick feels himself begin to leave his body at the peak of every wave. David moves back slightly between Patrick’s legs, hips canting upward and thighs straining with effort, one hand pressing on Patrick’s belly, firm but gentle, pushing him down into the mattress. Their eyes meet at the same time that David surges up and into him again and then all Patrick feels is this sudden, blinding, jagged pleasure, the air ripped raggedly from his chest, throat burning. It doesn’t let up—swell after swell crashing over his head, flooding his entire body with a pulsing, transcendent ache. He’s shaking and vaguely aware that his face is wet—with sweat or tears; he’s not sure which—and he distantly registers David groan, a hand stroking his cheek soothingly, hips stuttering. Even more wet heat at his core as David spills into him.

“David, I can’t—” Patrick gasps. “I can’t.” He’s desperate and raw and full so so full too full and

“I know, honey. I know. I’ve got you.” David breathlessly leans in to seal Patrick’s needy, panting mouth with his while the waves subside, nipping at base of his spine, the soles of his feet. The kiss is messy and tender and comforting as Patrick falls back into his body, something familiar to cling to while he counts the heartbeats in his stomach and focuses on the heat of David heavy on him. He exhales shakily.

“I’ve got you,” David murmurs into his open mouth as they kiss again, tongues sliding lazily against each other.

Patrick knows now that the wetness on his face was both tears and sweat, and goosebumps prickle his uncovered skin as it dries, David’s body pinning him perfectly. Holding him together. David pushes up on his forearms, bracketing Patrick’s head, and looks at him softly, absentmindedly running a thumb over a barely-there eyebrow.

“I’m gonna pull out, okay?”

Patrick bites his bottom lip but nods, squeezing David’s wrist as David gingerly draws his hips backward. The whimper that escapes Patrick is mortifying but genuine; he’s so empty.

“I know. Easy, baby,” David tuts, palming his hip soothingly, voice low and smooth. “Wait a second. I’m going to clean myself up.”

Patrick watches through heavy lidded eyes as David slowly rolls off of him and picks up the damp washcloth he’d set on the bedside table. His heart throbs painfully and his throat is still burning as he silently begins to cry again. Fat tears chase each other out of the corners of his eyes, down his temples, and onto the pillow beneath his sweaty head. Relief, joy, grief, shame all coexist in his warring thoughts, spill out of him messily and he covers his face with shaking hands. It feels like days that he lies there coming down, quietly basking in the crushing weight of love on his chest, every part of his body thrumming electrically.

The mattress dips under David’s weight as he rolls back towards Patrick, wiping at the tears on the sides of his face softly, a gentle hand on his hip pressing him onto his side. David says nothing for a long moment—just lies down behind him, holding him, chest warm against Patrick’s back, hand high on his stomach.

“Hey.” David’s voice is deep, soothing in Patrick’s ear. “Are you okay?”

Patrick nods feverishly.

“Do you need a minute?”

“No, no it’s okay. I’m—I’m good David. I’m really fucking good,” he croaks.

“Is it okay if I touch you more?”

“Uh yes. Yeah. Yup.” His voice is broken, desperate, but he’s not even a little embarrassed.

Patrick feels David’s slick hand on his stomach drift down and down and deftly wrap around his cock, which he’s just now realizing is still hard. He shudders at the contact and David breathes hot in his ear.

“David, how—“ Patrick stammers brokenly, but David shushes him with a kiss and Patrick relaxes against his mouth, moans into it. David is gentle but relentless, stroking Patrick’s cock at a confident pace as he kisses the back of his neck, bites at the skin of his shoulder, and Patrick surrenders, melting under David’s touch again, pleasure still somehow building in his body in a way that makes his scalp tingle and his jaw clench. When he comes onto the towel below them, David working him through it with a hot mouth on the skin just below his ear, he whines, the oversensitivity tingling sharply, deep in his belly.

Patrick is so thoroughly fucked—completely wrung out—as David places a kiss on the muscle between his neck and his shoulder and then grabs the washcloth again. He cleans Patrick’s softening cock tenderly and then slides the towel out from underneath him, balling it up and letting it fall on the floor by the bed. Palming a hip gently, he coaxes Patrick onto his stomach, nudging his legs apart and coming to rest between them, and Patrick hisses as he feels David spread him, washcloth followed by David’s hot, gentle mouth, soothing the swollen rawness between Patrick’s thighs. The room is quiet.

“Um,” Patrick croaks, face down against the pillow. His brain is broken and he cranes his neck to look over his shoulder. David smiles softly up at him.

When he’s finished, David drops the washcloth onto the balled up towel and then reaches down to pull the blanket at the foot of Patrick’s bed up and over them both. Patrick turns back onto his side again and David nestles against him, kissing the nape of his neck and draping an arm across his waist.

“Am I dead? I think I’m dead.”

David chuckles, burying his face in Patrick’s hair and inhaling.

“You smell good,” David murmurs, and then adds, “for being dead.”

Patrick laughs weakly, pressing himself back against David’s chest and David’s arm on his waist wraps tighter. They lie that way for a long moment, David’s fingers brushing absentmindedly across the soft, milky skin of Patrick’s stomach, and then, with a quiet grunt of effort, Patrick turns over to face him. Their eyes meet as Patrick lifts David’s hand to his mouth and kisses the knuckle of his middle finger, softly brushing his own thumb across it afterwards.

“Thank you, David,” he breathes.

David tips his chin down in response, chewing at the corner of his lip, and Patrick’s heart swells when he notes the wetness in David’s gaze. He presses another kiss to his knuckle and takes a moment to close his eyes and feel the skin of David’s fingers against his face, the post-orgasm buzz at the base of his spine, the tender pulsing between his legs.

He’s so lucky.

His eyes flutter open again and they meet David’s, and it’s probably the millionth time it’s ever happened, but it also always feels like the first time so it’s hard to keep track. David smiles softly, his eyes dark, liquid pools of warmth, and Patrick has to bite his bottom lip, his naked vulnerability putting him in very real danger of confessing the feeling David’s definitely not ready to hear.

“So,” David says quietly, a hand finding Patrick’s hip to pull him a bit closer, “was it...ok?”

Patrick clears his throat, his own hand crawling around to the small of David’s back as their stomachs touch.

“Um. Yes, David.” He lets out a weak laugh. “Yes. It was very okay. I can’t believe how okay it was.”

David’s perfect crooked smile blossoms at the corner of his mouth.

“It was very okay for me, too,” he echoes cheekily, leaning in to press a kiss to Patrick’s still swollen lips before rolling towards the bedside table and propping himself up on an elbow to grab the glass of water. “Here.” He carefully turns back to Patrick, who reluctantly pushes himself up and accepts the cup, leaning back against the headboard to take a deep gulp.

“Drink up, thirsty,” David chirps with a wink, watching Patrick’s face with the fondest eyes. Patrick clears his throat as he sets the glass on the nightstand next to him and turns back to David, gently grabbing his wrist just above the new bracelet. It fits perfectly, just as Patrick hoped it would.

“This looks good on you,” he says, his thumb brushing across the smooth, cool metal.

“Thank you. It’s gorgeous.” David smiles down at it, looking pleased. “Alice?”

“Alice,” Patrick nods in confirmation, fingers slipping off the bracelet to intertwine with David’s.

“Speaking of gorgeous,” David starts, turning his body towards Patrick and propping himself up on his right elbow, watching Patrick’s face again, carefully, “I never properly thanked you for those pictures.”

Patrick’s stomach jumps and he can feel the blush creeping down his cheeks and up his neck. He grins shyly, barely able to meet David’s gaze.

“Um. I’m glad you like them.”

“I love them. I want to get them framed. I’m obsessed.” David pulls his lips between his teeth and then gives a coy smile, shaking his head and pulling his hand from Patrick’s to rest it on the delicate skin under Patrick’s belly button, thumb stroking absentmindedly. “I had no idea you were such a, um, performer.”

Patrick’s face burns and his stomach tightens.

“Um. Me either. I guess it’s just another thing you taught me about myself.” Patrick clears his throat and looks away. They’re silent for a long moment and then, with an anxious laugh, Patrick continues. “David, sometimes I feel like all I do is think about you.”

When he manages to look back at David’s face, David’s eyes and cheeks are wet and he clears his throat noisily, blinking away the tears.

“I really meant it.” He gives a watery smile. “You have nothing to worry about. And maybe—maybe that’s the scariest part.”

David stretches to kiss Patrick, pulling him down with one hand on the back of Patrick’s neck and Patrick lets himself sink into it, calm. When they break apart, David gives Patrick a long, searching look.

“You have nothing to worry about, either, for the record,” he says, voice quieter, more gentle than normal, winding around the insecurities in Patrick’s chest and smothering them. David sighs peacefully as he drops his head onto Patrick’s bare shoulder, nestling slightly against the skin there, an achingly familiar gesture that Patrick can’t believe he ever lived without. He buries his mouth and nose into the top of David’s hair, breathing him in. Making a memory. As the seconds pass, David’s body begins to soften and sink into sleep, and Patrick lies beneath him, counting every snuffled breath and praying on each exhale that he gets to fall asleep like this forever.


Patrick sleeps for almost 12 hours.

When he wakes up, the clock says 11:43, and he has a brief moment of sheer panic before he realizes he’s alone in bed; the mussed imprint of David is in the sheets, but it’s long cold, so he evidently made good on his promise to open. Patrick wipes at his face sleepily and rolls over to pick up his phone from the bedside table. 3 missed calls, 2 missed FaceTimes—all from David.

David

Aug 30, 2017 11:43 AM ?!?
Why are you yelling at me
I could ask you the same question
I wanted to let you sleep but I also wanted to make sure I didn’t actually kill you. I don’t think you moved at all last night.
At one point I put my hand under your nose to make sure you were breathing
It was a valiant effort but no
I welcome another attempt on my life, though, if that’s how you plan to knock me off
What a way to go
That can be arranged


Patrick’s stomach flips.


How late did you open?
9:15
No, really
...10:30
The first hour is the slowest anyway
You tried
How do you feel this morning?


Patrick shifts experimentally in bed, stretching out, testing his limbs. For the most part, not much has changed, but in a bigger way, everything sort of has. He clears his throat and takes stock. Besides general morning aches, there’s a little tightness in his hips and thighs and, yes, he’s deliciously raw between his legs.

And it’s so god damned hot.


Tight
Mm. Now I regret not waking you
Instead you left me all alone in this bed
Thinking about last night
I’ve made a huge mistake
I’ll see you in a half hour. What do you want for lunch?
You
That can be arranged


He’d been thinking about grabbing a pizza, but David’s answer sends a shock of distracting heat down his spine. Slowly, he swings himself upright, testing the weight of his bare feet on the floor before he stands. The thought of seeing David thrills him as he rifles through his dresser for a pair of boxer briefs. When he turns back towards the bed, he notices a note on the nightstand, written in narrow, careful letters on the back of an old Apothecary receipt:

And I never thought this life was possible
You're the yellow bird that I've been waiting for

He smiles softly, heart humming, as he carefully tucks the neat scrap of paper inside the cover of his commonplace book and slips it back in his desk drawer.

To keep.